Revenge of the Domestic: Women, the Family, and Communism in the German Democratic Republic

Revenge of the Domestic: Women, the Family, and Communism in the German Democratic Republic

By: Donna Harsch (author)Paperback

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Revenge of the Domestic examines gender relations in East Germany from 1945 to the 1970s, focusing especially on the relationship between ordinary women, the Communist Party, and the state created by the Communists, the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The book weaves together personal stories from interviews, statistical material, and evidence from archival research in Berlin, Potsdam, Leipzig, Merseburg, and Chemnitz to reconstruct the complex interplay between state policy toward women and the family on the one hand, and women's reactions to policy on the other. Donna Harsch demonstrates that women resisted state decisions as citizens, wageworkers, mothers, wives, and consumers, and that in every guise they maneuvered to overcome official neglect of the family. As state dependence on female employment increased, the book shows, the Communists began to respond to the insistence of women that the state pay attention to the family. In fits and starts, the party state begrudgingly retooled policy in a more consumerist and family-oriented direction. This "domestication" was partial, ambivalent, and barely acknowledged from above. It also had ambiguous, arguably regressive, effects on the private gender arrangements and attitudes of East Germans. Nonetheless, the economic and social consequences of this domestication were cumulatively powerful and, the book argues, gradually undermined the foundations of the GDR.

About Author

Donna Harsch is professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University. She specializes in twentieth-century German history.


List of Illustrations ix List of Tables xi Acknowledgments xiii Abbreviations xv INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPTER ONE: The Trying Time: Survival Crises and Political Dilemmas under Soviet Occupation 19 CHAPTER TWO: Constructing Power: Women and the Political Program of the Socialist Unity Party 61 CHAPTER THREE: Forging the Female Proletarian: Women Workers, Production, and the Culture of the Shop Floor 87 CHAPTER FOUR: Restoring Fertility: Reproduction under the Wings of Mother State 133 CHAPTER FIVE: Reforming Taste: Public Services, Private Desires, and Domestic Labor 165 CHAPTER SIX: Reconstituting the Family: Domestic Relations between Tradition and Change 198 CHAPTER SEVEN: Modernization and Its Discontents: State, Society, and Gender in the 1960s 236 SLOUCHING TOWARD BETHLEHEM 304 Bibliography 321 Index 343

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780691059303
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 360
  • ID: 9780691059303
  • weight: 510
  • ISBN10: 0691059306
  • translations: English
  • language of text: English

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