László Kardos (1948–1999) a legal advisor, sociologist, an activist of SZETA, as well as director of Hungarian Soros Foundation.
He was born in Budapest in 1948. He completed his diploma as Doctor of Law at Loránd Eötvös University Budapest in 1972. JHe took a job as a state company solicitor and then as a legal advisor for the Social policy Department of the Ministry of Labour. He remained at his post in the hope that his department would be made a new Ministry of Public Welfare and that this would give him meaningful tasks in social policy design, but he was ultimately disappointed. In 1979, he volunteered as a secret legal advisor for SZETA, and in this position he helped hundreds of needy families, mainly in rural areas, from his ministry office. However, his clandestine activities were soon discovered and he had to leave his job.
Beginning in the early 1980s, he worked as a freelance intellectual, taking poorly paid sociological fieldwork, which for the most part meant doing interviews and making questionnaires to support his family. Given his legal expertise, he would have preferred to have worked as a research sociologist. In the early 1970s, he got in touch with István Kemény and Kemény’s young research team, and he took an active part in their nationwide pioneering research projects among the poor and the Roma in Hungary, and later also participated in many smaller research projects (for instance, involving the culture of labour, lifestyles, cooperatives, small villages, commuting workers, and other programs).
In 1984, thanks to some of his dissident contacts, he was offered a job as a secretary of the newly established Hungarian Soros Foundation. Later, from 1990 to 1994, he became the managing director of the Foundation. He was responsible for the administration of Hungary’s first and largest civil organisation, and he also actively initiated some new and successful programs. He did the preparatory work for most of the project plans and evaluations. During his last years of his life, he did an oral history interview with sociologist István Márkus for the 1956 Research Institute.He died of a long-lasting illness in 1999 at the age of 51. His personal notes and documents, including some early documents of SZETA, unfortunately were lost, so the only surviving source concerning much of his professional life is his recollections of the SZETA, which are well written and informative. http://www.c3.hu/scripta/beszelo/98/11/12szeta.htm
- Budapest, Hungary
- Nóvé, Béla
- Pál, Zoltán