Bought and Sold
Living and Losing the Good Life in Socialist Yugoslavia
Publication Year: 2011
Yugoslavia was unique among the communist countries of the Cold War era in its openness to mixing cultural elements from both socialism and capitalism. Unlike their counterparts in the nations of the Soviet Bloc, ordinary Yugoslavs enjoyed access to a wide range of consumer goods and services, from clothes and appliances to travel agencies and discotheques. From the mid-1950s onward the political climate in Yugoslavia permitted, and later at times encouraged, a consumerist lifestyle of shopping, spending, acquiring, and enjoying that engaged the public on a day-to-day basis through modern advertising and sales techniques. In Bought and Sold, Patrick Hyder Patterson reveals the extent to which socialist Yugoslavia embraced a consumer culture usually associated with capitalism and explores the role of consumerism in the federation's collapse into civil war in 1991.
Patterson argues, became a land where the symbolic, cultural value of consumer goods was a primary factor in individual and group identity. He shows how a new, aggressive business establishment promoted consumerist tendencies that ordinary citizens eagerly adopted, while the Communist leadership alternately encouraged and constrained the consumer orientation. Abundance translated into civic contentment and seemed to prove that the regime could provide goods and services equal to those of the capitalist West, but many Yugoslavs, both inside and outside the circles of official power, worried about the contradiction between the population's embrace of consumption and the dictates of Marxist ideology. The result was a heated public debate over creeping consumerist values, with the new way of life finding fierce critics and, surprisingly for a communist country, many passionate and vocal defenders.
Published by: Cornell University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Yugoslavia is hard to understand. To the extent that I have been able to make some sense of it, that success is built on the extraordinary work done by other scholars. The list could go on and on, but I do want to offer special thanks to those Yugoslav specialists from whom I have learned so much over the years, through so many lively conversations about Yugoslavia and ...
A Note on Archival Sources
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This book makes reference to sources from the Arhiv Jugoslavije (Archive of Yugoslavia) in Belgrade and the Hrvatski Državni Arhiv (Croatian State Archive) in Zagreb. Archival materials are cited in the notes with the initials of the archive (either AJ or HDA) followed by the number of the archival fond and then by the number of the folder/box/register/archi-...
PrologueThe Good Life and the Yugoslav Dream
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Yugoslavs take in more than they produce, and they spend more than Rather nicely, actually! For whatever it is that the modest opportunities of the present phase are not able to offer them, they use a magic wand to pull it out of their top hats—or their everyday hats, or their caps, or the Yugoslavs have liberated themselves. They have gotten rid of some of ...
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...temptations. Every month a new detergent. It’s not easy to take a political —New Year’s greetings “To the Average Woman in the SFRY [Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia],” Svijet [World], 1 January 1968 happen: for all their emphasis on material prosperity and social welfare, socialist states were not supposed to generate “consumer societies” where ...
1 Living It
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The lady of the house is a short, well-built woman with a kerchief on her head, and for her forty years very young looking. She is occupied with her copper coffee mill and her džezva [the traditional copper Turkish coffee pot]. Finally, she sits down at the table as well and pours the coffee. [I ask:] “In your home is it a regular habit to drink coffee?” “Earlier it ...
2 Making It
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This is the way it used to happen: The shopkeeper fi lled up his stockroom. Customers bought from him or just walked by. Autumn approached, but in the stockroom there was still far too much merchandise. And the shopkeeper also knew that too much of his merchandise was out of date. He worried about things for two or three days, and on the fourth day ...
3 Selling It
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Advertising [ekonomski publicitet] is something completely new in the socialist economy. Up until now, this topic has been addressed only to a relatively small extent in this country. We cannot transfer and take advantage of certain experiences of the Western countries, which have gone considerably further ahead in the fi eld of advertising, because ...
4 Fearing It
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The real use value of the product must be the true goal of every system The external form of things must be ever more pleasing and inviting for buyers, which demands additional expenses, as well as the use of psychology, an artistic sense for design, and so on, as well as cleverness in advertising, in order to convince the buyer that the superfi cial, external ...
5 Taming It
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Comrade Tito, on the Adriatic coast there are tens of thousands of vikendice, weekend houses. There are, of course, little vikendice, there are people who have taken out credit or who have set aside part of their paychecks to build some little family house. But there are also many enormous villas, there are people who own a house in Zagreb and in ...
6 Fighting It
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Prakticˇna žena [Practical woman] promoted practices totally different Although most of those who expressed misgivings about Yugoslavia’s consumerist orientation drew on a decidedly left-wing and cosmopolitan tradition, Marxism did not occupy the entire critical fi eld. Even frank con-servative reactions against market culture and consumer society also marked ...
7 Loving It
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Science is falling behind, the economy is falling behind, the statistics are falling behind—no one is able any longer to match the pace of the Yugoslavs and predict how they will continue to rise and fl ourish in the Children can hardly wait to be born. We have come just that far. There are already several hundred candidates to become the twenty-millionth ...
8 Needing It
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...—Drop it! I have to get ready—you see that I’m in a hurry!Contrary to Marxian models and the stated goals of Yugoslav socialist pol-icy, which imputed class identities based on a person’s role in a system of production, membership in this New Class was predicated, in essence, upon participation in a modern style of mass consumption, a complex of behav-...
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Now I don’t want to get into statistics, but I am old enough to remember the time of abundance in the 1970s and the time of the crisis after Tito’s death when we had to wait for coffee, sugar, and oil, when we drove only on odd or even days of the month (because there was no gasoline), and things like that. . . . It’s true, there was corruption during Tito’s time, but ...
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Page Count: 388
Publication Year: 2011