Working Difference

Women’s Working Lives in Hungary and Austria, 1945–1995

Working Difference

Comparative and International Working-Class History

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Book Pages: 224 Illustrations: 15 tables Published: January 2003

Author: Éva Fodor

European Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Sociology > Labor

Working Difference is one of the first comparative, historical studies of women's professional access to public institutions in a state socialist and a capitalist society. Éva Fodor examines women's inclusion in and exclusion from positions of authority in Austria and Hungary in the latter half of the twentieth century. Until the end of World War II women's lives in the two countries, which were once part of the same empire, followed similar paths, which only began to diverge after the communist takeover in Hungary in the late 1940s. Fodor takes advantage of Austria and Hungary's common history to carefully examine the effects of state socialism and the differing trajectories to social mobility and authority available to women in each country.

Fodor brings qualitative and quantitative analyses to bear, combining statistical analyses of survey data, interviews with women managers in both countries, and archival materials including those from the previously classified archives of the Hungarian communist party and transcripts from sessions of the Austrian Parliament. She shows how women's access to power varied in degree and operated through different principles and mechanisms in accordance with the stratification systems of the respective countries. In Hungary women's mobility was curtailed by political means (often involving limited access to communist party membership), while in Austria women's professional advancement was affected by limited access to educational institutions and the labor market. Fodor discusses the legacies of Austria's and Hungary's "gender regimes" following the demise of state socialism and during the process of integration into the European Union.


"[I]nnovative. . . . [C]ompelling and thought provoking. . . . There is much for scholars of gender to consider in this book. . . . Yet the audience for this book should extend to political sociologists and analysts of eastern Europe in general. Through its nuanced account of the mechanisms of social inclusion and exclusion and its masterful combination of quantitative and qualitative data, Fodor's book remains one of the only serious studies of the effects of state socialism on relations of power, privilege, and authority." — Lynne Haney, Slavic Review

"Fodor is to be congratulated on having tackled systematically an issue so central to social historians of postwar Europe. The great strength of her book is its reliance on a thoroughly comparative method. . . . ." — Mark Pittaway, Journal of Modern History

"Fodor's book provides a rich and thorough analysis of new data and sheds light on questions of gender inequality, stratification, and feminist theory. It makes an especially important contribution to understanding how gender regimes function, how they can change over time, and the effects they have on the lives of women. This book is a must read for anyone interested not only in east central Europe but also in broader issues of gender and the state, inequality, and feminism." — Jill M. Bystydzienski , Work and Occupations

"The qualitative comparison between principles of exclusion and inclusion in the two countries is the reason I would recommend that all gender scholars read Working Difference. . . . I commend the author for creating a high quality and fascinating book. Working Difference will surely make an important contribution to sociology by strengthening feminist theory and by modeling a comparison that avoids portraying state and postsocialism as inadequate copies of the West." — Zsuzsa Gille , Contemporary Sociology

"This comparison of women's achievement in state socialist Hungary and capitalist Austria makes contributions to the areas of class analysis, gender stratification, and feminist theory. The comparative research design is one the book's strength. . . . Another outstanding feature of this study is the triangulation of multiple methods." — Mary Blair-Loy , American Journal of Sociology

“Éva Fodor's compelling analysis of gendered mechanisms of exclusion and inclusion in the workplaces of state-socialist Hungary and capitalist Austria provides a welcome set of comparative insights to the burgeoning literature on gender, states, and societies, and speaks to core questions in feminism and studies of inequality.” — Ann Shola Orloff, coauthor, States, Markets, Families: Gender, Liberalism and Social Policy in Australia, Canada, Great Britain

Working Difference contains much fascinating new material and exciting analysis. It will make an important contribution to gender theory and to the study of postsocialist stratification. This book is one of only a small handful that directly compare Eastern and Western European political economies and one of the only ones that compares gender regimes. It will have a wide influence on discussions of gender regimes, welfare states, and the historical role of state socialism.” — Susan Gal, coauthor of The Politics of Gender after Socialism


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Éva Fodor is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Dartmouth College.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

1. Three Generations of Women in Central Europe 1

2. Gender Regimes in East and West 17

3. From “K und K” to “Communism versus Capitalism”: The Social Worlds of Austria and Hungary 39

4. Exclusion versus Limited Inclusion 61

5. Mechanisms of Exclusion 76

6. Conditions of Inclusion: Examining State Policies in Austria and Hungary, 1945–1995 104

7. Difference at Work: A Case Study of Hungary

8. Convergence in the Twenty-First Century?

Appendix A. Data Sets, Samples, and Definition of Variables

Appendix B. Chronology of Legislation Targeting or Affecting Women

Notes 173

References 189

Index 201
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3090-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3077-6
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