For the Pleasure of the Popular Classes

Advertizing, Consumer Research, and Daily Consumption in the German Democratic Republic
By Ina Merkel

For the pleasure of the popular classes. Advertising, consumer research and daily consumption in the German Democratic Republic.

Consumer culture in the G.D.R. is still a controversial topic. Was it primarily a society of scarcity or are there patterns of consumption associated with a rationality and a modern society ? The paper looks at the socialist type of consumer society from another point of view, a distinctive anthropological logic. It focuses on two functions : market research and consumer problems on the one hand and the idea and politics of advertisement on the other. Both are concepts developed under capitalist conditions. How did they function in the G.D.R. ? The paper shows how utopian ideals, socialist politics and the demands of the population came into contradiction with each other.

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