Sociologický časopis
Czech sociological review

VYDÁVÁ SOCIOLOGICKÝ ÚSTAV AV ČR, v.v.i.

← Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review 6/2017

Martin Hájek, Tomáš Samec:
Discourses of Thrift and Consumer Reasonability in Czech State-Socialist Society [805]

Hájek, Martin, Tomáš Samec. 2017. „Discourses of Thrift and Consumer Reasonability in Czech State-Socialist Society.“ Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review 53 (6): 805-832, https://doi.org/10.13060/00380288.2017.53.6.376

The article examines how notions of thrift, saving, and frugality were present and active in the state-socialist discourses of economic behaviour and what meaning these notions carried. The research is based on three kinds of data: the official state-socialist public discourse of economic behaviour as presented in transcripts of parliamentary speeches, household guides and manuals, and eyewitness accounts of the state-socialist era recollected in oral history interviews. Such a multi-faceted corpus of discourse data made it possible to examine factual and normative aspects of thrift in state-socialist discourses and compare them with the accounts of everyday practices and tactics that may well contradict the official discourse. The analysis reveals that (a) notions of thrift and saving were strongly present throughout the period in all discourses examined, (b) both terms underwent a semantic shift from a productive to a restrictive meaning over time, and (c) both notions were eventually publicly sidelined by the emphasis on raising revenue. Despite fading from public discourse in the late 1980s, the notion of thrift had by then become instilled in the subjective understanding of the ‘reasonable consumer’, a concept that can therefore be considered a precursor of the contemporary concept of consumer responsibilisation.

Keywords: thrift, saving, discourse analysis, socialism, consumers, consumer responsibilisation

The article examines how notions of thrift, saving, and frugality
were present and active in the state-socialist discourses of economic behaviour
and what meaning these notions carried. The research is based on three
kinds of data: the official state-socialist public discourse of economic behaviour
as presented in transcripts of parliamentary speeches, household guides
and manuals, and eyewitness accounts of the state-socialist era recollected in
oral history interviews. Such a multi-faceted corpus of discourse data made
it possible to examine factual and normative aspects of thrift in state-socialist
discourses and compare them with the accounts of everyday practices and
tactics that may well contradict the official discourse. The analysis reveals that
(a) notions of thrift and saving were strongly present throughout the period
in all discourses examined, (b) both terms underwent a semantic shift from a
productive to a restrictive meaning over time, and (c) both notions were eventually
publicly sidelined by the emphasis on raising revenue. Despite fading
from public discourse in the late 1980s, the notion of thrift had by then become
instilled in the subjective understanding of the ‘reasonable consumer’, a concept
that can therefore be considered a precursor of the contemporary concept
of consumer responsibilisation.
Keywords: thrift, saving, discourse analysis, socialism, consumers, consumer
responsibilisation

 

 

PDF ke stažení PDF článku ke stažení…

Sociologický ústav AV ČR, v.v.i., Jilská 1, 110 00 Praha 1, e-mail: casopis@soc.cas.cz