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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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Modifying, Maintaining, and Repairing Private Cars in the GDR, 1970–1990

(p.157) 9 Autobasteln
The Socialist Car

Kurt Möser

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines some of the functions and roles of consumer “activation” in socialist car cultures by focusing on cars and consumers in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from the 1970s, when a specific type of “automobile society” emerged. It considers car tinkering, repairing, and modifying within the context of Autobasteln—the social movement of do-it-yourself, amateur craftsmanship, bricolage, even modeling and home renovation. The chapter discusses Autobasteln in relation to politics, the economy, the individual bonding of man and technological artifacts, and aesthetics. It asks whether automobiles in socialist countries had not only technological but also social specifics, whether the social construction of cars was different in different societies, and whether users needed or developed other practices and skills than those used in the West.

Keywords:   consumer activation, car culture, consumers, German Democratic Republic, automobile society, car tinkering, Autobasteln, automobile, socialist countries, social construction

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