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Disenchantment with Market Economics: East Germans and Western Capitalism
Volume 1

European Anthropology in Translation

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Disenchantment with Market Economics

East Germans and Western Capitalism

Birgit Müller

254 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-217-9 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (January 2007)

ISBN  978-1-84545-506-4 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (September 2007)

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“...the very narrowness of the study affords the book its wide scope. Müller wisely and fruitfully chooses to focus on three East Berlin enterprises…[that] operate and develop in distinct ways, giving Muller's survey a satisfying reach across both workplace relations in East Germany and the processes of reunification and marketization.”  ·  H-German


The life-worlds and personal experiences of workers and employees in three enterprises in East Berlin at the moment of political and economic upheaval stand at the centre of the book. It sets out in 1989 at the moment of the fall of the Berlin Wall witnessing the confrontations with the market economy and examining the reinterpretations of the socialist past as the political and economic changes take place.

Disenchantment with Market Economics captures a unique moment in history and unveils myths and promises of liberal market economy from the perspective of those who lived through the break down of the planned economy at their workplaces in East Berlin. While Western managers regarded the expansion of their businesses towards Eastern Europe as a civilising mission, the East German employees reacted with complex strategies of individual adaptation and resistance.

Birgit Müller is a senior researcher in Social Anthropology at the Laboratoire de l'anthropologie des institutions et organisations sociales, LAIOS-CNRS in Paris. She has done extensive research in factories and on social and environmental movements in eastern and western Europe and Latin America. Her current focus is on power and ideology in the bio-tech controversies. Her publications include Political Power and Institutional Change in Post-Communist Eastern Europe (C.S.A., 1999).

Subject: Economic History General Anthropology
Area: Central/Eastern Europe Germany




  • Methods of Field Research
  • Introducing the Enterprises and the Participants of the Study


Chapter 1. Ideology and Practice of the Plan

  • Planning Scarcity
  • Politics before Economics

Chapter 2. Pact of Plan Fulfilment

  • Democratic Centralism in the Enterprise
  • Autonomy and Drudgery
  • Discipline and Motivation

Chapter 3. Socialism as Performance

  • Living learning and working the Socialist Way Covertly…

Chapter 4. Party Rule in the Enterprise

  • Party and Career Party Control
  • The Freedom to Think Differently
  • Perestroika in the Enterprise


Chapter 5. Privatisation – Domination and Possession

  • Covert Criticism Becomes Loud
  • From ‘People-owned’ to Privately Owned Property

Chapter 6. Market Delusion

  • Marketing Working for the Market
  • Picture of the Prevailing Mood after Two Years of Short-time Work Consumption

Chapter 7. Worldviews at the Time of the Wende

  • The Construction of Two German Cultures
  • The Idea of Socialism


Chapter 8. Hochinauf ’s Mission in East Germany

  • Strategies of Expansion
  • The Missionaries of the Market Economy
  • The Hochinauf ‘Family’

Chapter 9. Two Careers in the Market Economy

  • A Model for Success
  • Adaptation and Refusal
  • Self-discipline and Eigensinn

Chapter 10. Unification and Individualisation

  • Pressure to Achieve versus Scientifically Determinable Productivity
  • ‘Paradise’ or the Successful Integration
  • Collectivity and Competititon



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