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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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Cars as Favors in People’s Poland

Cars as Favors in People’s Poland

(p.30) 2 Cars as Favors in People’s Poland
The Socialist Car

Mariusz Jastrząb

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how cars in Poland came to be granted as favors for loyal or exceptionally useful subjects by those in authority. Using two sets of archival documents from 1977–1980 and 1983–1985, it discusses the practice of automobile distributive decisions at the governmental level. The chapter first provides an overview of automobile production and distribution in Poland before discussing the mechanisms of allocating cars to private individuals in a governmental institution and shows that the process of making those decisions was characterized by a lack of formalized rules of behavior. Cars were given to people with certain ties to decision makers, and car ownership became an indicator of social status. Officials who allocated cars received demonstrations of submission, gratitude and loyalty, or, in some cases, personal services in return. The chapter also considers how Western automotive makers such as Fiat Company not only provided an essential shortcut to the production of the Socialist Car but also offered hopes for material advancement, modernity, and comfort.

Keywords:   automobile, Poland, car ownership, Fiat Company, Socialist Car, automobile production, modernity, social status

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