Béla Tomka

Senior Fellow
University of Szeged, Hungary
Project Title: 
Consumption and Leisure in Post-War East Central Europe
Project Abstract: 

The book project intends to integrate the ever expanding yet fragmented scholarship about consumption in communist East Central Europe. While most of the recent contributions to the topic reflect a propensity or even bias for cultural approaches, the project advocates an interdisciplinary interpretation of consumption regimes in the region. More specifically, it offers new perspectives for research by a systematic comparative analysis of consumption regimes and consumption practices in East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary that allows us to test existing generalizations and eventually develop new ones. The research claims that specific aspects of generational change, recurrent austerities and shifting consumer aspirations were major determinants of consumption regimes in East Central Europe. Finally, it suggests an alternative view on the dynamics of consumer culture in the region, which does not focus on the drive for the emulation of Western consumption patterns, rather, it puts emphasis on endemic forces, such as the increase in redistribution, and discourses on the needs of workers.

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