The contributors to Negotiating Normality are nationals and residents of post-socialist countries. Socialism is part of their family memory, even part of their own life experiences. For them the topic of socialism is authentic and ironic. It is authentic in that it is based on local knowledge and insider experience; it is ironic because of their distance from that experience.
This unique post-revisionist study focuses on people's lives and experiences rather than political systems. The studies are grouped around three common elements-socialist labor, the new socialist man, and the socialist way of life. They translate socialism's major ideological principles into motives that guide lives. Using first-hand accounts, the authors find minute deviations from the norms that eventually lead to re-negotiation of the norms themselves. Focusing on routines, not extremes, they present socialism in its "normal" state. They examine trivial matters to understand the limits set on individuals' lives but also on their goals and dreams.
Each chapter is based primarily on personal documents and narrative interviews. The overall approach is ethno-methodological. The interpretations capture behavior and speech that is seldom reflected or articulated in narrative histories. The volume demonstrates different national strategies for dealing with the past in the post-socialist world. Studies of the socialist past may strive to be objective, but their messages tend to be complex. Rather that arriving at one truth about the nature of socialism, this volume explores the many ways people have survived the system.
"More than 20 years after the sudden demise of the Iron Curtain, it is finally possible to examine everyday experiences of living in socialist Eastern Europe, without the distortions of Cold War ideologies. That is the task of the essays in this volume by women scholars who lived through socialism in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and parts of the former Yugoslavia (Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia).... This volume has articles about relations between workers on collective farms and in factories; time management in a socialist school; and the experiences and strategizing of consumption and housing under conditions of chronic intergenerational women's experiences, one in rural settings and one urban. The introduction by editor Koleva is an excellent discussion of the very concept of normality.... [A] useful interesting collection.... Highly recommended."
--R. M. Hayden, Choice
"Mainstream historical scholarship has portrayed state-socialism as a heavy handed dictatorial regime, which controlled and managed society in a top-down manner. This book breaks with conventional wisdom by highlighting that 'real' life in socialism was a much more complicated thing and cannot be explained by political impositions only. 'Ordinary' people were negotiating the terms of their livelihoods with the communist rulers and managed to establish something they often considered to be normal. The book gathers illuminating case-studies which are hold together by a clear and original conceptual framework. It should change the ways how we think of this now extinct way to organize society."
--Ulf Brunnbauer, professor, Institute for East and Southeast European Studies, Regensburg, Germany
|Introduction: Socialist Normality: Euphemization of Power or Profanation of Power?||p. vii|
|"Living and Working Together": Formal and Personal Relations Between Workers of the Polish State-Owned Farms||p. 1|
|"Women Workers" in Hungary: Identities and Everyday Lives (Microhistorical Analysis of Life-Story Interviews)||p. 23|
|Yesterday's Heroes: Spinning Webs of Memory in a Postsocialist Textile Factory in Slovenia||p. 43|
|Negotiating Spare Time: Magic at Work in the Everyday Life of a Bulgarian Socialist School||p. 63|
|Contested Normality: Negotiating Masculinity in Narratives of Service in the Yugoslav People's Army||p. 83|
|Experiencing Socialism: Female Singers in Southeastern Serbia||p. 103|
|Eating Well in Times of Scarcity: Reactions, Perceptions, and Negotiation of Shortages in 1980s' Romania||p. 121|
|Resistance in Consumption: In Search of a Negotiating Agent||p. 151|
|Housing as a Norm and as an Everyday Life Strategy in Communist Czechoslovakia (1968-89)||p. 175|
|The Indifferent, the Obedient, and the Adjusted: Three Women's Narratives about Socialism in Croatia||p. 195|
|The Authors||p. 219|
|Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.|
Number Of Pages: 249
Published: 1st July 2012
Publisher: Transaction Publishers
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 16.0 x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.522