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He was born in the Eastern Hungarian town of Debrecen, where his father was a professor of literature.
He received his university degree in French and English languages from Budapest University, where he later graduated with a PhD.
He has written extensively on values system in Hungary and Central Europe, as well as on global civilisation. His concept of Second Society has been much cited in East European Studies.
He has been a professor at Stanford University, the Bruges and Florence University Institutes as well as the Central European University.
Fears and Symbols: An Introduction to the Study of Western Civilization
One of his most important books is Fears and Symbols: An Introduction to the Study of Western Civilization (2006).
- Stranius, Pentti: Lähde 2/2005, Joensuu. The source for Secoond society: Hankiss, Elemér (1988): The "Second Society": Is There an Alternative Social Model Emerging in Contemporary Hungary. In Social Research 55/1988, Nos 1-2, pp. 13-42.