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Human And Ethnic Rights In Democratic Transition, Vol. 7 - 2000, No. 1

External Help and the Transformation of Civic Activism in Hungary

, pages: 55-70

The political protest movements of the transformation period in Hungary have been institutionalised as political parties or in other organisational forms. They have become organised and formalised actors in the new democracy, while new social movements emerged with new forms of protest activities oriented to address new socio-political conflicts. Approaches to institutionalisation processes of social movements, "movementism," specific political cultures, and forms of action and organisation of socio-political movements were pushed back during the transformation into political organisations. The "established" civil society of former Communist countries strives for resources and experiences of Western democracies. However, Western support is also based on a scarcity of resources, a fact nor realised at the time of Communist constraints, when receiving Western aid was a risky activity undertaken only by few groups and individuals. A competitive market for low-risk support by Western agencies is being established. Civil society activists have to prove accountability, organisational skills, and social and media impact to be supported by Western donors. Intellectual capital and organisational infrastructure must be provided with managerial skills required by Western agencies as distributors of goods and organisers of programmes. A shift from informal social movements to differentiated types of NGOs takes place, as targets of Western aid and a competitive market of Eastern NGOs will be established for the external help.

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