How to silence the lambs? Constructing authoritarian governance in post-transitional Hungary

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Veronika Nagy


This paper examines a range of arguments put forward to explain how financial surveillance of non-governmental organisations empowers authoritarianism in the post-transitional Hungarian context. In doing so, it attempts to shed light on the limitations of existing surveillance theories regarding the historical component of surveillance tolerance and the different modes of governance in post-communist European countries. It argues that post-transitional disappointment in democratic governance is causing Hungarians to become resigned to political decisions and to support new forms of authoritarian rules. Such a stoic attitude and the historically embedded surveillance culture facilitate the use of monitoring mechanisms that not only target terrorists as an external security threat, but also target NGOs defined as ‘the enemies of national values’. Hungarian authoritarian policies are not facilitated by extended surveillance practices, as Anglo-Saxon theories have regularly argued, but by the way they are used as an instrument of a political deterrence strategy against political opponents.

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Author Biography

Veronika Nagy, Utrecht University

'Veronika Nagy is an Assistant Professor at the Willem Pompe Institute of Criminal Law, Utrecht University. She has a background in Cultural Anthropology, and after her Master Criminology she was employed by the Probation Service of The Salvation Army in The Netherlands. Veronika joined the staff of Criminology in 2012 as PhD student, doing extensive research on crime politics and migration control in the European Union, in particular on privatized surveillance methods through social welfare provisions in the United Kingdom. As part of the PhD Program, Doctorate in Cultural and Global Criminology (DCGC) she completed her research on social sorting of Roma migrants and their interaction with social service providers in the European Union. Based on a multi-sited ethnography she explains how newcomer Roma from countries of the Visegrad Group anticipate and circumvent exclusionary practices of benefit agencies in London. In her work, empirical methods, surveillance theories and ethnic studies are integrated by her multidisciplinary background. Veronikas other major research interest covers child exploitation and technological development of monitoring practices. In her publications she evaluate social economic implications of surveillance on migrants residence and employment status. After obtaining her PhD in Oktober 2016, she has mainly been working on issues related to changes in the EU migration management Agenda. Within the frame of a recent research project on Securitisation of migration, Veronika has organized several workshops in the Netherlands and she was given numerous presentations abroad. From 2015 she is teaching Security and Cyber-technology, supervising master students and coordinating the bachelor course, International Organised Crime.'