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Modern HungersFood and Power in Twentieth-Century Germany$
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Alice Weinreb

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190605094

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190605094.001.0001

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Kitchen Debates

Kitchen Debates

The Family Meal and Female Labor in East and West Germany

(p.164) 5 Kitchen Debates
Modern Hungers

Alice Weinreb

Oxford University Press

This chapter compares East German and West German attitudes toward women working outside of the home during the 1960s and 1970s. The two German states had radically different attitudes toward female employment. West Germany discouraged it, believing that women should remain out of the workforce to care for their families, especially their children. East Germany encouraged female labor as essential for meeting the country’s economic needs; women’s employment was seen as necessary for their self-fulfillment and as having a positive impact on their children’s health. Despite these differences, both countries perceived home cooking as women’s sole responsibility, as well as a vital necessity. This belief, among other things, determined the countries’ quite different school lunch policies. Ultimately, the normalization of home cooking and a “family meal” shaped women’s relationship to wage labor by demanding that their time and energy be dedicated to daily food work.

Keywords:   kitchens, family meal, home cooking, housewives, cold war, school lunches, Germany, GDR, socialism, gender

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