UCL logo

UCL Discovery

UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Power, the party and the people: the significance of humiliation in representations of the German Democratic Republic

Leask, PG; (2012) Power, the party and the people: the significance of humiliation in representations of the German Democratic Republic. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

[img]
Preview
PDF
Phillip Leask PhD thesis 09.08.2012.pdf
Available under License : See the attached licence file.

Download (2MB)

Abstract

This thesis reconsiders the nature of humiliation, defining it as an exercise of power, and argues that the SED consciously and as a matter of habit used humiliation to seek to shape people’s lives in the GDR. It seeks to understand the processes that led to this happening and the consequences of it. The thesis considers different theoretical approaches to humiliation and contrasts it with shame. It argues that humiliation is a demonstrative use of power with a recurring set of elements: stripping of status; arbitrariness or unpredictability on the part of the humiliator; exclusion or rejection of the victim; and a personal sense of injustice matched by the lack of any remedy for the injustice suffered. It suggests that the emotions flowing from an act of humiliation follow a predictable course and the consequences for the victim, and often for the society, are serious and long-lasting. This understanding of humiliation is applied to a close reading of literary fiction, films, letters, diaries and memoirs from the whole period of the GDR and beyond. These sources suggest that humiliation or the fear of humiliation was a constantly recurring feature of the relationship between the people and representatives of the SED and the State. The thesis considers the founding myths, the norms and values implied by them, and how and why the Party breached these by humiliating its perceived opponents. It looks at the Party’s hostility to Freudian as opposed to Marxist-Leninist ways of understanding human behaviour, analyses different forms of humiliation shown to take place in everyday life and discusses why the Party used humiliation against its own members. It concludes by considering the impact of humiliation on the attempts to develop the GDR as a ‘normal’ society and discusses some of the present-day implications of this understanding of humiliation.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Power, the party and the people: the significance of humiliation in representations of the German Democratic Republic
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Humiliation, GDR literature, GDR history, SED, communism
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1355325
Downloads since deposit
2,829Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item