Edited volume

Cristofer Scarboro, Diana Mincyte, Zsuzsa Gille (eds.) (2020)

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

Publishing house Indiana University Press
Place of publication Bloomington
Language English

ISBN: 9780253047793


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.



1. The Pleasures of Backwardness / Zsuzsa Gille, Cristofer Scarboro, and Diana Mincytė

2. Consuming Dialogues: Pleasure, Restraint, "Backwardness," and "Civilization" in Eastern Europe / Mary Neuburger

3. Just Rewards: The Social Contract and Communism's Hard Bargain with the Citizen-Consumer / Patrick Hyder Patterson

4. Conceptualizing Consumption in the Polish People's Republic / Brian Porter-Szűcs

5. Oranges and the New Black: Importing, Provisioning, and Consuming Tropical Fruits and Coffee in the GDR, 1971–1989 / Anne Dietrich

6. VCRs, Modernity, and Consumer Culture in Late State Socialist Poland / Patryk Wasiak

7. The Enchantment of Imaginary Europe: Consumer Practices in Post-Soviet Ukraine / Tania Bulakh

8. The Late Socialist Good Life and its Discontents: Bit, Kultura, and the Social Life of Goods / Cristofer Scarboro

9. The Prosumerist Resonance Machine: Rethinking Political Subjectivity and Consumer Desire in State Socialism / Zsuzsa Gille and Diana Mincytė