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Consumer revolution in People's Poland: Technologies in everyday life and the negotiation between custom and fashion (1945-1980)

Journal of Consumer Culture

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Drawing upon ethnographic data, this article discusses the adoption of technologies into everyday life in People’s Poland, in the wider theoretical context of the consumer revolution or a shift in consumption patterns towards fashion. There were two mechanisms of the consumer revolution in People’s Poland: collective usefulness and modern hedonism. For the mechanism of collective usefulness, the main factors in the shift in consumption patterns were the state-controlled propaganda of ‘progress’ and the domestication of technology. Household appliances were adopted as necessities that helped people fulfil their needs, in line with the idea of ‘progress’ propagated by the authorities of People’s Poland in the post-war period. In the process of the domestication of technology, customarily female activities were changing into flexible practices of using household appliances driven by fashion. In the case of modern hedonism, the main factor in the shift towards fashion was the ‘advertising’ of a Western standard of living in American films shown on television in the 1960s. The course of the consumer revolution was diversified by gender, social class and generation.