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The Socialist CarAutomobility in the Eastern Bloc$
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Lewis H. Siegelbaum

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449918

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449918.001.0001

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Alternative Modernity?

Alternative Modernity?

Everyday Practices of Elite Mobility in Communist Hungary, 1956–1980

(p.47) 3 Alternative Modernity?
The Socialist Car

György Péteri

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how the state socialist order asserted its systemic exceptionalism (a pattern of development distinguishing socialism from capitalism) in the field of modern mobility, using Communist Hungary as a case study. More specifically, it considers the everyday practices of elite mobility in Hungary during the period 1956–1980 by focusing on the members of the salaried apparatus of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (HSWP). The chapter begins with a discussion of policies aimed at containing the rising costs of automobility and to put a stop to sneaking privatization. It then shows how the everyday practices of apparatus mobility became a major force behind private car-based mobility at the expense of both collective transport and personal car rental and sharing. It also tackles the question of whether state socialism could assert an alternative modernity antithetical to capitalist modernity. It argues that the socialist mode of consumption failed to assert itself in the field of personal transportation in Communist Hungary.

Keywords:   socialism, capitalism, mobility, Hungary, automobility, privatization, personal car, car rental and sharing, modernity, personal transportation

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