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Within WallsPrivate Life in the German Democratic Republic$
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Paul Betts

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199208845

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199208845.001.0001

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Building Socialism at Home

Building Socialism at Home

Remaking Interiors and Citizens

(p.119) 4 Building Socialism at Home
Within Walls

Paul Betts

Oxford University Press

Recent years have witnessed growing academic interest in material culture as a particularly rewarding approach to reinterpreting the German past. That Germany served as one of the twentieth century's busiest construction sites of political experimentation and utopian ventures of all stripes meant that the built environment was crucial for conveying new dreams of political power, place and possibility. Yet it is less well-known is that the 20th century placed great premium on the domestic interior. This chapter considers the issue of interior design and the construction of an East German Wohnkultur, or domestic ‘living culture,’ as both socialist ideal and lived reality. Attention will also be paid to the flourishing 1960s cottage industry of East German etiquette books as further efforts to stylize the socialist self and to remake home life as an outpost of socialist civilization.

Keywords:   interiors, style, design, material culture, visual culture, tradition, modernism, etiquette, manners

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