György Péteri
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Consumer and consumerism under state socialism
Demand-side abundance and its discontents in Hungary during the long 1960s

It was shortages, not excess consumption, that was a prime subject for Eastern Europe’s social scientists of the Cold War era. Yet a move toward market socialism, the re-emergence of the emancipated consumer, and a sustained supply-side abundance remained at the core of the reformist Communist economy, all the way to the demise of the state-socialist project. The changes during the 1960s included the birth of the consumer citizen and some half-hearted steps toward an economic domain in which planning and market would be integrated. The long decade following 1956 in Hungary brought with it consumerism, defined as values and desires, and patterns of behavior focused on satisfying an acquisitive desire. Such consumerism did not require the abundance of goods, typical for the contemporary Western affluent societies.

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