Making Sense of Dictatorship

Domination and Everyday Life in East Central Europe after 1945
Making Sense of Dictatorship book cover
$75.00 / €63.00 / £54.00
Publication date: 
November 2021, 260 pages, cloth, 11 b&w photos

How did political power function in the communist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe after 1945? Making Sense of Dictatorship addresses this question with a particular focus on the acquiescent behavior of the majority of the population until, at the end of the 1980s, their rejection of state socialism and its authoritarian world.

The authors refer to the concept of Sinnwelt, the way in which groups and individuals made sense of the world around them. The essays focus on the dynamics of everyday life and the extent to which the relationship between citizens and the state was collaborative or antagonistic. Each chapter addresses a different aspect of life in this period, including modernization, consumption and leisure, and the everyday experiences of “ordinary people,” single mothers, or those adopting alternative lifestyles.

Empirically rich and conceptually original, the essays in this volume suggest new ways to understand how people make sense of everyday life under dictatorial regimes.

Pavel Kolář and Michal Kopeček

Editors’ Note
Ana Kladnik and Celia Donert

Socialism as Sinnwelt: Communist Dictatorship and its as a World of Meaning in a Cultural-Historical Perspective
Martin Sabrow

Neither Consent nor Opposition: Eigen-Sinn; or, How to Make Sense of Compliance and Self-Assertion under Communist Domination
Thomas Lindenberger

Policeman Nicolae: The Story of One Man’s Life and Work in the Socialist Republic of Romania (1960–89)
Ciprian Cirniala

The East German Reporting System: Normality and Legitimacy Through Bureaucracy
Hedwig Richter

Late Communist Elites and the Demise of State Socialism in Czechoslovakia (1986–1989)
Michal Pullmann

Local Self-Governance, Voluntary Practices, and the Sinnwelt of Socialist Velenje
Ana Kladnik

Modern Housekeeping Worlds; or, How Much is Thirty Percent Really? Eigensinnige Consumer Practices and the Hungarian Trade Union’s “Washing Machine Campaign” of 1957–58
Annina Gagyiovaá

Single Mothers, Lonely Children: Polish Families, Socialist Modernity, and the Experience of Crisis of the Late 1970s and 1980s
Barbara Klich-Kluczewska

“Since Makarenko the Time for Experiments has Passed”: Peace, Gender, and Human Rights in East Berlin during the 1980s
Celia Donert

Problems with Progress in Late Socialist Czechoslovakia: The Example of Most, North Bohemia
Matĕj Spurný

Authentic Community and Autonomous Individual: Making Sense of Socialism in Late Socialist Hungary
Péter Apor

The “Will to Publicity” and its Publicists: Curating the Memory of Czechoslovak Samizdat
Jonathan Larson

Dissident Legalism: Human Rights, Socialist Legality, and the Birth of Legal Resistance in the 1970s Democratic Opposition in Czechoslovakia and Poland
Michal Kopeček

List of contributors