The Socialist Good Life: Desire, Development, and Standards of Living in Eastern Europe

Zsuzsa Gille (Editor) Cristofer Scarboro (Editor)
& 1 more


What does the good life mean in a "backward" place?

As communist regimes denigrated widespread unemployment and consumer excess in Western countries, socialist Eastern European states simultaneously legitimized their power through their apparent ability to satisfy consumers' needs. Moving beyond binaries of production and consumption, the essays collected here examine the lessons consumption studies can offer about ethnic and national identity and the role of economic expertise in shaping consumer behavior. From Polish VCRs to Ukrainian fashion boutiques, tropical fruits in the GDR to cinemas in Belgrade, The Socialist Good Life explores what consumption means in a worker state where communist ideology emphasizes collective needs over individual pleasures.

Product Details

Indiana University Press
Publish Date
June 02, 2020
5.98 X 0.58 X 9.02 inches | 0.84 pounds
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About the Author

Tania Bulakh is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology, Indiana University Bloomington. Anne Dietrich is a PhD candidate at the University of Leipzig and a freelance curator. Zsuzsa Gille is Professor of Sociology and Director of Global Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of Paprika, Foie Gras, and Red Mud: The Politics of Materiality in the European Union (Indiana University Press, 2016), From the Cult of Waste to the Trash Heap of History: The Politics of Waste in Socialist and Postsocialist Hungary (Indiana University Press, 2007--recipient of honorable mention of the AAASS Davis Prize), co-editor of Post-Communist Nostalgia with Maria Todorova (Berghahn Press, 2010), and co-author of Global Ethnography: Forces, Connections and Imaginations in a Postmodern World (University of California Press, 2000). Diana Mincyte is Associate Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York-New York City College of Technology. Mary Neuburger is a Professor of History, the Director of the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (CREEES), and the Chair of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at the University of Texas of Austin. Dr. Neuburger is the author of The Orient Within: Muslim Minorities and the Negotiation of Nationhood in Modern Bulgaria (Cornell 2004), and Balkan Smoke: Tobacco and the Making of Modern Bulgaria (Cornell, 2012). Dr. Neuburger is also the co-editor with Paulina Bren of Communism Unwrapped: Consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe (Oxford, 2012). She is co-editor of the Journal of Contemporary History. Brian Porter-Szűcs is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of History at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. He is the author of Poland and the Modern World: Beyond Martyrdom (Wiley Blackwell, 2014), Faith and Fatherland: Catholicism, Modernity, and Poland (Oxford University Press, 2010), and When Nationalism Began to Hate: Imagining Modern Politics in 19th Century Poland (Oxford University Press, 2000), which was translated into Polish (Pogranicze, 2011). Together with Bruce Berglund, he co-edited Christianity and Modernity in East-Central Europe (Central European University Press, 2010). Patrick Hyder Patterson is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego. He is author of Bought and Sold: Living and Losing the Good Life in Socialist Yugoslavia (Cornell University Press, 2011). Cristofer Scarboro is Professor of History at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Late Socialist Good Life in Bulgaria: Living and Meaning in a Permanent Present Tense (Lexington Press, 2011). Patryk Wasiak is Associate Professor at the Institute of History at the Polish Academy of Sciences.