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Cold War in the Kitchen: Gender and the De-Stalinization of Consumer Taste in the Soviet Union under Khrushchev

Susan E. Reid
Slavic Review
Vol. 61, No. 2 (Summer, 2002), pp. 211-252
DOI: 10.2307/2697116
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2697116
Page Count: 42
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Cold War in the Kitchen: Gender and the De-Stalinization of Consumer Taste in the Soviet Union under Khrushchev
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Abstract

Consumption, a key issue in the study of post-Soviet culture, was already a central concern during the Cold War. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Khrushchev regime staked its legitimacy at home, and its credibility abroad, on its ability to provide its population with consumer goods and a decent standard of living. Despite promising "abundance for all" as the precondition for the imminent transition to communism, the regime could not afford to leave abundance undefined. In this article, Susan E. Reid examines the way discourses of consumption, fashion, and the ideal Soviet home sought to remake consumers' conceptions of culturedness, good taste, and comfort in rational, modern terms that took into account the regime's ideological commitment and economic capacity. Such efforts to shape and regulate desire were directed above all at women. Reid pro-poses that the study of consumption provides insights into the ways in which post-Stalinist regimes manipulated and regulated people through regimes of personal conduct, taste, and consumption habits, as opposed to coercion. Indeed, the management of consumption was as significant for the Soviet system's longevity as for its ultimate collapse.

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