The House That Socialism Built

Brigitte Le Normand

in Communism Unwrapped

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199827657
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199950461 | DOI:
The House That Socialism Built

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Brigitte Le Normand’s chapter provides a historical analysis of the evolution of housing policy, as a window for tracking changing attitudes towards and critiques of consumption in postwar Yugoslavia. From the very beginning of the period, Yugoslav policy was fixated on the creation of “egalitarian” housing practices which translated into rent control and the gradual shift of housing ownership from private to public. The Yugoslav break from the Bloc in 1947-8 did little to change this as policymakers still strove, through their unique formulation of “self-management,” to bring into being a genuine worker-managed socialist state. In a rather contradictory fashion, however, self-management—with its embedded approval of worker incentives—was also used to justify the consumerist turn that Yugoslavia experienced in the late 1950s. This turn was simultaneous with the rest of the Bloc, indicating that the advancement of postwar reconstruction was as important as the death of Stalin in consumer shift of the period. But outside the still restrictive context of the Bloc, Yugoslavia went much further in embracing of “market socialism” and promoting private ownership, including luxurious housing. Significantly, however, numerous Yugoslavs became disenchanted as newly visible luxury housing and the high costs of home ownership brought to the fore dissatisfaction about the growing social disparities that resulted from “market socialism.” Hence, in the relatively liberal environment of Yugoslav socialism, greater avenues of luxury consumption shared the stage with more open critiques of state-enabled consumer practices that were in open conflict with notions of socialist equality.

Keywords: socialist Yugoslavia; socialist cities; Belgrade; market socialism; housing policy; consumption; social inequality; urban planning

Chapter.  9792 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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