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Hungarian Horoscopes as a Genre of Postsocialist Transformation

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In the mid-1990s in Hungary, astrology publications and horoscopes - along with porn and evangelical literature - were among the Western cultural forms once restricted or banned by the socialist state that were enjoying enormous popular interest. Rather than examine astrology as a religious belief or superstitious practice, I approach it as a particular genre of self-transformation, often regarded as harmless and entertaining but nonetheless having efficacious potential. Drawing on numerous examples from print publications, interviews with professional practitioners and informal discussions, this article makes two observations: first, that readers of horoscopes looked to the divinatory capacity of horoscopes to assist them in making decisions and navigating the uncertain context of the 1990s; second, that as a genre able to shape and constrain subjectivity, horoscopes were instrumental in affecting transformations of normative character, moral codes and worldview from a localist, state-socialist cosmology to one more in accord with the demands (and enticements) of a global, neoliberal capitalist order.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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