Eli Rubin takes an innovative approach to consumer culture to explore questions of political consensus and consent and the impact of ideology on everyday life in the former East Germany. "Synthetic Socialism" explores the history of East Germany through the production and use of a deceptively simple material: plastic. Rubin investigates the connections between the communist government, its Bauhaus-influenced designers, its retooled postwar chemical industry, and its general consumer population. He argues that East Germany was neither a totalitarian state nor a niche society but rather a society shaped by the confluence of unique economic and political circumstances interacting with the concerns of ordinary citizens.
To East Germans, Rubin says, plastic was a high-technology material, a symbol of socialism's scientific and economic superiority over capitalism. Most of all, the state and its designers argued, plastic goods were of a particularly special quality, not to be thrown away like products of the wasteful West. Rubin demonstrates that this argument was accepted by the mainstream of East German society, for whom the modern, socialist dimension of a plastics-based everyday life had a deep resonance.
"Rubin's study stands out as a highly original and effective contribution to our understanding of the GDR in its middle period .a model for future studies."
-"Bulletin of the German Historical Institute"
|Abbreviations and Acronyms||p. xv|
|1958, the Year of Consumption and Chemicals||p. 17|
|Plastics and the Victory of Functionalist Design, 1945-1962||p. 43|
|Plastics and the Socialist Apartment of the Future||p. 81|
|Plastic Consumer Goods in the Everyday World of East Germany, 1958-1969||p. 120|
|Centralization: Plastics, Design, and Total Control, 1962-1972||p. 165|
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Number Of Pages: 328
Published: 1st January 2009
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.6 x 2.4
Weight (kg): 0.594