By A. Randall

Within the early Thirties Soviet specialists introduced a crusade to create "socialist" retailing and also endorsed Soviet consumerism. How did the Stalinist regime reconcile retailing and intake with socialism? This booklet examines the discourses that the Stalinist regime's new method of retailing and intake engendered.

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Extra info for The Soviet Dream World of Retail Trade and Consumption in the 1930s (Consumption and Public Life)

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1 A full meal in 20 minutes! Buy food concentrates Source: Unknown artist, 1939 (Russian State Library). 90 Numerous advertisements reinforced these messages, pointing to the women and mothers who benefited from new food products that clearly made their lives easier. An ad from 1937, for example, showed a modern-looking smiling woman, stylishly dressed, with prepackaged meat in her hand. The ad proclaimed, “Pre-packaged meat. It saves time. ”91 Women’s advocates, such as A. V. 92 By depicting it as a means for increasing people’s opportunities in general, and women’s emancipation in particular, consumerism could be reclaimed as socialist.

I. 39 Thus, shortly after the government established a central rationing system, it decided that this system could not remain an essential feature of the Soviet economic landscape. Although the centralized supply of rationed goods was not completely eliminated until the mid-1930s, economic policy moved in that direction from 1931. 40 But Communist leaders also rejected rationing because they saw it as engendering corruption. In 1931 Stalin lamented: How in a worker’s government can the supply organs allot rations for workers, but along the road between the workers and the supply organs ...

In practice cooperatives were subordinate to the executive organ Tsentrosoiuz, which effectively served as another state-controlled commissariat. In the early 1930s, cooperative stores were far more numerous than state stores, and served as the focus of the trade campaign’s efforts. But as state trade expanded and became increasingly identified with cultured retailing, the centrality of consumer cooperatives to Soviet trade declined. In September 1935, the regime reorganized consumer cooperatives, consigning them to the countryside and transferring those in urban areas to Narkomvnutorg (which ended up being a real boon to the state trade infrastructure).

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