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Dressing the Shop Window of Socialism: Gender and Consumption in the Soviet Union in the Era of 'Cultured Trade', 1934-53

Hetherington, P; (2015) Dressing the Shop Window of Socialism: Gender and Consumption in the Soviet Union in the Era of 'Cultured Trade', 1934-53. Gender and History , 27 (2) pp. 417-445. 10.1111/1468-0424.12132. Green open access

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Abstract

By 1953, Soviet consumer culture seemingly depended upon a gendered dichotomy that presented women as the primary consumers and that was reflected in, re-inscribed and reworked by Soviet consumption practices and the discourse of 'cultured trade'. However, the gendered discourse of consumption was neither inevitable nor static throughout the Stalin period. This article argues that the image of women as the paradigmatic consumers was ambiguous in the early years of 'cultured trade' in the 1930s, and indeed men were often featured as the primary shoppers for the home, or at least as equally interested in domestic consumer goods as women. Furthermore, in the era of pro-natalism, both male and female sexual desirability was mobilised in advertising and consumption discourse, arguably to redirect the libidinal urges of the buying public to 'cultured' ends. The fact that this gendered discourse developed over time, and in part in response to the intense upheaval of the SecondWorldWar, contrad icts the argument that the strict separation between male and female consumer spheres discernible by 1953 was part of a deliberate and planned 'Great Retreat' from revolutionary ideals.

Type: Article
Title: Dressing the Shop Window of Socialism: Gender and Consumption in the Soviet Union in the Era of 'Cultured Trade', 1934-53
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/1468-0424.12132
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0424.12132
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1520736
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