First published in France in 2001 by Éditions Belin under the title Le communisme au quotidien, Sandrine Kott’s book examines how East German businesses and government carried out communist practices on a daily basis and how citizens and workers experienced the conditions created by the totalitarian state in their daily lives. Kott undertakes a social analysis of the Communist Party’s grasp on state enterprises and the limits of its power. She then analyzes the enterprises themselves and the social, generational, and gender tensions that had a profound impact on the lived experience of socialism. Finally, she considers the development and acceptance of a complex set of rituals and gift exchanges that masked latent conflicts while providing meaning to socialism’s role in ordinary life.
“[This] is the first work that offers a social history of power in East Germany, analyzed with precision, based on reliable and numerous sources, and which suggests, for the first time since unification, an image of East Germany that is closer, in my view, to reality than . . . the majority of articles that have appeared since 1990.”
—Gilbert Badia, Université Paris–VIII, Cahiers d’Histoire
“Kott’s book brings together approaches (socio-economic and cultural/anthropological) that are, in current scholarship, too often kept apart and provides an excellent model of interdisciplinarity within history.”
—Laird Boswell, University of Wisconsin–Madison