Transformation through Participation?

The 1968 Movement and the “Democratization of the Conditions of Literary Production”
By Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey

Transformation through participation ? The 1968 movement and the « democratization of the conditions of the production of literature » in Germany.

While the question, whether and how books trigger revolution, remains contested, the so-called « revolution of the book fair » at Frankfurt in 1968 has shown that the mobilization of a social movement has effects on the book market and publishing houses. This article sketches and analyzes the power struggle and competition which broke out in 1968 within several German publishing houses around the transformation of mechanisms of control and decision-making. This is analyzed by looking at two rival experiments : the « uprising of editors » and the struggle for the establishment of an « editors’ constitution » within the Suhrkamp publishing house and the efforts in which Günter Grass was involved to develop an « employees’statute » and a « council of authors » within the Luchterhand publishing house. The interest in both cases centers around the relationship between the struggle for participatory democracy within the publishing houses and the 1968 movement. The article closes with four hypotheses about the effects of the 1968 movement upon the field of cultural production and especially the subfield of the publishing houses.


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