Vergleich und Transfer in der Konsumgeschichte.
Vol. 19 No. 6 (2009)
Herausgegeben von Manuel Schramm
Private or State-Owned? Automobile Consumer Culture in the Soviet Union, the GDR, and Romania
The article teases out the common features of a socialist consumer culture by taking three different national settings under scrutiny. Central to the inquiry is the automobile as one of the most prestigious artifacts in the Soviet Union, East Germany and Romania. The main contentious issue regarding the status of the automobile was whether cars should be awarded by the state to its most loyal citizens, bought freely, or rented from state companies. The exclusivist Stalinist consumer society was radically transformed in the postwar period due to internal political reconfiguration and the influence of the other block countries. This comparative study has shown that between Moscow and its satellites a vivid cultural exchange took place that coined the automobile culture of the last decades of socialism. The silent partner in this exchange was the West that made mass motorization around the private car its main characteristic also under socialism.
Internationalisation and cultural transfer of brands
Everyone knows them – brands which are known all over the world and bring up coherent assignments. But how did such brands develop and become internationally intelligible carriers of meaning working cross-cultural? Within a process of Internationalisation brands received a check of multiple assimilation both to changes in their home- and main-markets and to new forms of communication-channels and -rooms. Thereby the prime markets took wide influence on the definition and direction of this assimilation which was increasingly geared by internationally understood value-based concepts. Coeval transatlantic transfers proceeded that were not only reciprocal and unique but bred another transfer – a re-transfer – on the basis of a transfer that occurred before. Using the example of the Jaguar and Porsche brands it is shown on the basis of a theoretical as well as empirical comparative study how corporate brand strategies and brand communication evolved within the automobile industry.
Deutsch-polnischer Schleichhandel in Leipzig als Konsumkultur „von unten“
„Brotherhood and friendship with socialist countries must not be used for speculation“. German-Polish illicit trade in Leipzig as consumer culture „from below“
During the communist rule in the Eastern Bloc the economy of shortage influenced everyday life in the GDR and Poland in a decisive way. While facing problems of supply, people in Leipzig developed informal practices like contraband trade to fulfil their needs and wishes of consumption. Transborder encounters between the societies of GDR and Poland in the seventies and eighties fuelled an exchange of goods of shortage in Leipzig’s contraband trade structures. Practices reached from spontaneous help by acquaintances to professionalized groups of smugglers and dealers. The grade of implicitness, stability and structure of this informal phenomenon can be described as an own “culture of consumption from below”. In the atmosphere of political and social difficulties and distrust this led to a negative perception by the government bodies and by the public sphere of Leipzig alike.
Großbritannien, Frankreich, Deutschland und Italien 1950–1970
National Differences in Western European Mass Consumption. Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy, 1950–1970
The article takes issue with the notions of “Americanization” and “Europeanization” of mass consumption in the period following World War II. It is argued that, for this period, processes of Americanization and globalization have been overestimated. Even where influence from the outside made itself felt, it took different forms in different countries. The article examines the following dimensions of mass consumption: motorization, domestic equipment, advertising, retail trade and nutrition, and consumers´ organizations. Because developments in these fields attenuated regional and social divisions within countries, the national cultures became actually more homogenous. The transition to mass consumption was a distinctively national experience which helps to explain the resistance to globalization processes since the 1970s.
So far, the history of the telegraph has been told from a trans-Atlantic perspective. Likewise, the history of the telegraph has been written as a history of technological invention and scientific progress measurable in the mileage of underwater cables. However, the social consequences of the new communication medium have been neglected almost completely. Taking South-Asia (British India) into consideration it becomes evident that the history of the telegraph is by far more complex than hitherto assumed. In the first place contemporary telegraphic connection across the Atlantic was as important as connecting British India with the centre of the British Empire, i.e. London, simply for economic and financial reasons. Secondly, the invention of a practicable telegraphic system took place in the USA, in Great Britain and British India simultaneously during the 1830s. In British India one of the world’s largest telegraph system was constructed outside Europe and the USA. Thirdly, completing the world-wide network of telegraph systems at the beginning of the twentieth century caused massive tariff-competition among the globally acting telegraph cartells leading to strikes in the US and British India which had enormous social consequences for the telegraph personnel. Fourthly, as in Europe and the USA, the possibility to telegraphically transmit information created new forms of news, journalism and newspaper-layouts in British India (as well as in other parts of the world) and helped to establish an all-India public sphere by the 1920s.