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The politics of alcohol in late socialist Romania and Czechoslovakia

Dates:
  • Mon 23 Jan 2017 10.00 - 12.00
  Add to Calendar 2017-01-23 10:00 2017-01-23 12:00 Europe/Paris The politics of alcohol in late socialist Romania and Czechoslovakia

This thesis examines the politics of alcohol in Eastern bloc states in the 1970s and 1980s. In this period, socialist governments refrained from describing alcohol problems as a symptom of exploitation or as a lack of socialist consciousness. Instead, they settled for short-term practices that tackled the consequences of drinking, such as hospital treatment for alcoholics and counseling services for their family members. The thesis revolves around the question why socialist states embarked on this pragmatic approach to social problems. The politics of alcohol serve as a lens through which I study how socialist states rearranged their ideas about state responsibility and good social order in the 1970s and 1980s. In five chapters, I reconstruct the new categories of social organization. Analyzing consumption politics, treatment programs for alcoholics, debates on family problems, and new safety precautions in Romania and Czechoslovakia, I show how in all of these fields central governmental institutions relegated the authority for coping with alcohol problems to smaller social units: to scientific experts, to the institution of the family, and to the individual. I argue that by reassigning state responsibility, socialist governments did not retreat from authority. To the contrary, they strove to rearrange governing rationalities and thereby adapt socialist states to post-industrial realities.

Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle

This thesis examines the politics of alcohol in Eastern bloc states in the 1970s and 1980s. In this period, socialist governments refrained from describing alcohol problems as a symptom of exploitation or as a lack of socialist consciousness. Instead, they settled for short-term practices that tackled the consequences of drinking, such as hospital treatment for alcoholics and counseling services for their family members. The thesis revolves around the question why socialist states embarked on this pragmatic approach to social problems. The politics of alcohol serve as a lens through which I study how socialist states rearranged their ideas about state responsibility and good social order in the 1970s and 1980s. In five chapters, I reconstruct the new categories of social organization. Analyzing consumption politics, treatment programs for alcoholics, debates on family problems, and new safety precautions in Romania and Czechoslovakia, I show how in all of these fields central governmental institutions relegated the authority for coping with alcohol problems to smaller social units: to scientific experts, to the institution of the family, and to the individual. I argue that by reassigning state responsibility, socialist governments did not retreat from authority. To the contrary, they strove to rearrange governing rationalities and thereby adapt socialist states to post-industrial realities.


Location:
Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Contact:
Francesca Parenti - Send a mail

Supervisor:
Pavel Kolar (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

Examiner:
Prof. Ulf Brunnbauer (University of Regensburg)
Alexander Etkind (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)
Prof. Marius Turda (Oxford Brookes University)

Defendant:
Esther Wahlen (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

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