Services in an Industrial Socialist Society: The GDR, 1949–1989

By Sandrine Kott

Firstly, this paper intends to prove that although there was no official tertiary sector in the GDR, services were indeed available. Often tightly linked to the secondary sector, they were more or less organized after the model of a general welfare sector. The paper also aims to explore the political and economic logic which sustained this model. Lastly, it raises questions about the reception of these services: why could they not fulfill their mission and did they have such a bad reputation? These can be explained by the failure of the centrally planned economy which was not flexible enough to respond to the changing demands of private persons. Equally, one also has to consider the dominant political and cultural representations which did not allow seeing a service as an economic and personal transaction.


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