• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

In what ways do the themes of consumption and the informal economy, living standards and social welfare shed light on the nature of the socialist regime in Poland and the extent of its impact on the lives of ordinary people?

Extracts from this document...


Mark James Fisher HIST 3094: Independence and Occupation in Poland since 1918 Case Study Essay Dr. Kathy Burrell In what ways do consumption and the informal economy, living standards and social welfare shed light on the nature of the socialist regime and the extent of its impact on the lives of ordinary people? Following the Second World War, a Soviet-imposed communist regime was established in Poland. [1] Using the themes of consumption and the informal economy, livings standards, and social welfare, it is possible to shed light on the nature of this socialist regime, and the extent of its impact on the lives of ordinary people. These themes reveal that whilst in some periods, the communist regime was progressive in nature, thereby allowing its citizens to experience an enhanced life; it was also backward and corrupt, as a result of the various governments? command economies, and industrialisation schemes. [2]At the same time, these themes also shed light on the extent of the socialist regime?s impact on the lives of ordinary citizens. These themes reveal that the regime?s impact could be negative or positive, minimal, and large at different times. These themes will each be examined in turn, firstly looking at the nature of the regime, and then the extent of its impact on citizens. Consumption and the informal economy firstly shed light on the nature of the regime and the extent of its impact on ordinary citizens. Whilst the theme of consumption highlights that the regime was slightly progressive, it principally reveals that it was corrupt, unpopular and backward, and a large, and negative influence on peoples? lives. At the same time, the theme of the informal economy reveals that the regime also had a lesser impact on the lives of the citizens.[3] Consumption revealed that the state was progressive to a small extent, as despite food shortages and queues, many people found that state shops still sold certain alcohols like vodka, which most people subsequently spent 70% of their incomes on.[4] The ...read more.


They had these concrete blocks they lived in, and they had an outside toilet, and I mean the state of the premises was terrible. I have never seen anything so bad in all my life.[45] Krystyna?s testimony revealed the backward nature of the communist regime when she described her cousin?s apartment. [46]The fact her cousin?s apartment had a toilet outside the house rather than inside it, and was generally in poor condition is important, since it demonstrated the communist regime?s failure to modernise society. By failing to modernise society, the communist regime lost its appeal amongst the population, whom were expecting to live in a good way. Furthermore, housing shortages also had a large, detrimental impact on the regime?s citizens, as this resulted in overcrowding and pollution. [47]Overcrowding was seen by the way in the majority of cases, three people lived in a room.[48] It was important that in many houses, a room was pre-occupied by up to 3 people because it demonstrated most citizens suffered extensively during the regime, and that they faced economic hardships every single day.[49] Housing also revealed the regime was corrupt due to the fact housing construction was often prioritised for some people over others, which therefore spread inequality amongst the population.[50] George Kolankiewicz and Paul G. Lewis further support this as they argue that ?the social distribution of housing can therefore be quite indicative of inequality within the area of collective consumption.?[51] Kolankiewicz and Lewis make a strong argument because the majority of housing facilities were provided for government ministers and factory directors, rather than the working-classes, whom the communist party was supposed to represent. Whilst 58% of housing was occupied by local government officials and factory directors, only 54% of housing was given to the working classes.[52] The fact a higher percentage of housing was given to government officials than working classes was important in revealing the regime was corrupt, as it demonstrated that the communist system based its social welfare policies around the nomenklatura system, whereby ...read more.


Reid (eds.) Places in Socialism: Leisure and Luxury in the Eastern Bloc (Illinois, Illiois University Press, 2010), p.4 [23] David Crowley and Susan E. Reid (eds.), Style and Socialism: Modernity and Material Culture in Post-War Eastern Europe, (Oxford :Berg Publishers, 2000), p.37 [24] Burrell, p.69 [25] Ibid., p.31 [26] Ibid., p.31 [27] J.F Browm, Eastern Europe and Communist Rule (London: Duke University Press, 1988), p.158 [28] Bulent Gokay, Eastern Europe since 1970 (Harlow: Pearson, 2001), p.54 [29] Jerzy Lukowski, A Concise History of Poland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p.305 [30]Ibid., p.305 [31] Ibid., p.305 [32] Wincenty Sameulwicz, ?Poland?s 1950-1979 Social and Economic Development in Comparative Perspective: An Outline?, East European Quarterly, vol. 21 (1987), p.491 [33] Ibid., p.491 [34] ibid., p.491 [35] Ibid., p.491 [36] Ben Fowkes, Eastern Europe 1945-1969: From Stalinism to Stagnation (Harlow: Pearson, 2000), p.45 [37] Paul G. Lewis, Central Europe since 1945 (London: Longman, 1994) p.37 [38] Joni Lovenduski and Jean Woodal, Politics and Society in Eastern Europe (Hampshire: MacMillan, 1987) p.332 [39] Anita Prazmowska, A History of Poland (Hampshire: Palgrave, 2004), p.202 [40] George Kolankiewicz and Paul G. Lewis, Poland: Politics, Economy and Society (London: Pinter Publications, 1988), p.28 [41] Ibid., p.27 [42] Ibid., p.27 [43] Robert Bidieleux and Ian Jeffries (eds.) A History of Eastern Europe: Crisis and Change (New York: Routledge, 1998), p.514 [44] Kolankiewicz and Lewis, p.27 [45] Interview with Krystyna Bialek, 25th February 2012 [46] Interview with Krystyna Bialek, 25th February 2012 [47] Crowley, p.37 [48] Lewis, p.37 [49] Ibid., p.37 [50] Ibid., p.37 [51]Kolankiewicz and Paul G. Lewis p.28 [52] Ibid., p.28 [53] Bogdan Mieczkowski, ?The relationship between changes in consumption and politics in Poland?, Soviet Studies, vol. 30 (1978), p. 262 [54] Ibid., p.262 [55] Kolankiewicz and Lewis, p.31 [56] Ibid.., p.31 [57] ibid., p.31 [58] Ibid., p.28 [59] Ibid., p.31 [60] Interview with Krystyna Bialek, 25th February 2012 [61] Kolankiewicz and Lewis, p.31 [62] Kolankiewicz and Lewis, p.31 [63] Ibid., p.32 [64] ibid., p.32 [65] Ibid., p.32 [66] Young, p.83 [67] Richard Crampton, Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century and after (New York: Routledge, 2004), p.392 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 1950-1999 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree 1950-1999 essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Did Britain become a Classless Society after 1945?

    4 star(s)

    considered by politicians, both contemporary and current, as a quiet revolution of social reform.13 Marr argues that "the old distinctions were softening [...] as increasing numbers would make it to university too, and extra 30000 a year by 1950."14 This demonstrates increased social mobility for the working class children to

  2. To what extent were ideological differences the cause of the Cold War from 1941 ...

    records and open up their economy to US capitalist interests - were such that it was impossible for communist states to do so without a fundamental change to their system. The Soviet Union and revisionist historians view Marshall Aid as nothing more than an attack on communism, as they needed the funds yet simply could not accept them.

  1. Free essay

    The Fall of Communism in Poland. The Catholic Church Solidarity and its ...

    goal, simply a constant renewal of attempts to disrupt the religion:" Frequent and abrupt policy change make it difficult to distinguish aspects of basic to the long-term communist strategy from those which expressed only tactical modifications. Church & State in communist Poland: a history,1944-1989 (2010)

  2. Cuban Missle Crisis

    Within 24 hours of the official beginning of the quarantine, Soviet ships continued to draw near the line of United States Navy vessels, with several within 10 miles. Naval intelligence shows a Soviet submarine drawing near as well. After several hours, reports show that Russian ships have stopped movement-a standoff has begun.

  1. What was the real meaning of destalinization, from social point of view?

    administration and growing abyss between highest and lowest social levels of people. From sociological point of view, Brezhnev's times were just continuation of Khrushchev's period, but without extremism and adventurism of the latter. Policy of Communist Party of Brezhnev's times, directed onto being in command of intellectual elite of society,

  2. To what extent does Gorbachev deserve credit for the collapse of Communism in Eastern ...

    sluggish Soviet economy moving again, through avenues that had not been explored since the days of the NEP. The idea of a mixed economy was a laudable and logical conclusion following the failure of the completely state controlled system. It was perhaps the most obvious solution to solving the USSR's

  1. Why did the communist regimes in eastern Europe break down so quickly after 1989?

    Another prediction made about the future of communism claimed that interaction theory - increased contacts with the west - would cause 'slow, gradual changes' in Eastern Europe. This theory may have been correct in defining that the increased interaction would lead somewhere, but it was ultimately let down by the rapidity of the changes that occurred in 1989.

  2. Change in an Indian Village. Analysis of Charlotte and William Wiser's "Behind ...

    What were the changes in the second half of the century when Wisers and Susan Wadley visited Karimpur? Firstly, the role of women had changed a little bit. Secondly, education had increased and more and more villagers had B.A. degrees and moved to cities to find work.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work