Philanthropic Activities and Their Political Implications during the Refugee Crisis in Hungary

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Margit FEISCHMIDT, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary
Ildiko ZAKARIAS, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Center for Social Sciences, Hungary
The events of the last months have revealed an increasing contradiction between the political discourses and the actual practices of the EU concerning refugees and asylum seekers. Moreover, new dimensions of the contradictions have appeared exposing the national differences in migration policies. In this general picture Hungary plays a special role in that she denies solidarity with migrants both at the level of political discourses, and also in her direct political actions. A closer examination can show that in the humanitarian vacuum that followed from this the civil society remained the only source potentially embracing discourses of humanitarianism and solidarity, and practising compassion, that is, answering the actual basic physical needs of the migrants.

In our presentation we will investigate everyday reactions to this humanitarian pressure. Despite the general perception about the overall passivity of the Hungarian society controlled by a xenophobic government, several professional organizations and an even wider range of individuals and newly formed informal groups have initiated and maintained long-term support for the migrants. In the presentation we aim to highlight some results of a research project that investigates forms, perceptions and political implications of such philanthropic actions. We will briefly outline the social background of individuals taking part in such activities, as well as the level of approval or rejection toward them on the part of the larger population. Also, the relationship between such humanitarian support and attitudes towards (national or EU level) political actors will be briefly analysed, highlighting certain aspects of political implications of such humanitarian philanthropic activities.

The research applies qualitative methods, mainly interviews with volunteers of established organizations, members of new issue-oriented groups and lonely activists (approx. 20 interviews), and leans on a survey conducted on a sample of 1000 people representing the Hungarian adult population.