chapter  6
16 Pages

Shopping for an ‘Economic Miracle’

Gendered Politics of Consumer Citizenship in Divided Germany
ByKatherine Pence

With the Cold War division of Germany each state worked to bolster its legitimacy by promising its own 'Economic Miracle' complete with abundance and the pleasure of consumption. Women were empowered as expert consumers, but their power was strictly circumscribed and monitored by vigilant populations and Cold War regimes that scrutinized shopping choices. The contraposition of rival capitalist and socialist systems in Germany created tension between the mobilization of desire among 'purchasers as citizens' and the ongoing need to constrain and direct this desire for the sake of ideological commitment. In their often violent and unruly manner, these female consumers demanded that economic and political officials respond to their needs. The background of ration era shortages and the division of Germany into competing economies shaped consumer-citizenship in the Western social-market and Eastern socialist 'Economic Miracles'.