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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?

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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.

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