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Don't Need No Thought Control
Western Culture in East Germany and the Fall of the Berlin Wall
288 pages, 20 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78920-733-0 $120.00/£89.00 Hb Not Yet Published (June 2020)
eISBN 978-1-78920-734-7 eBook Not Yet Published
“Horten’s book is a very important new step in understanding the power that Western consumer culture—the "imaginary West”—had in placing the GDR in a profound dilemma, one which ultimately caused its downfall. A model of cultural history, Don’t Need No Thought Control shines new light on how the GDR attempted to walk a fine line between satisfying its citizens' desire for Western consumer culture while remaining true to its socialist foundations, a task that proved to be ultimately impossible.” • Eli Rubin, Western Michigan University
“In this book Gerd Horten brilliantly analyses the problematic impact of Western consumer culture on the GDR in the 1970s and 1980s. No other study has so clearly highlighted the connection between consumer culture and the collapse of the regime. It expands our view of the too often neglected late GDR and offers a persuasive explanation of its decline.” • Christoph Classen, Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History
The fall of the Berlin Wall is typically understood as the culmination of political-economic trends that fatally weakened the East German state. Meanwhile, comparatively little attention has been paid to the cultural dimension of these dramatic events, particularly the role played by Western mass media and consumer culture. With a focus on the 1970s and 1980s, Don’t Need No Thought Control explores the dynamic interplay of popular unrest, intensifying economic crises, and cultural policies under Erich Honecker. It shows how the widespread influence of (and public demands for) Western cultural products forced GDR leaders into a series of grudging accommodations that undermined state power to a hitherto underappreciated extent.
Gerd Horten is Emeritus Professor of History at Concordia University, Portland, Oregon. His first book, Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda during World War II, was published by the University of California Press in 2002, and he has published articles in journals including German History and German Studies Review.
Subject: 20th Century History Media Studies General Cultural Studies
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Disempowering a Dictatorship—Media and Consumer Culture in East Germany
Chapter 1. Successful Media Campaigns in East Germany in the 1960s and 1970s: The Vietnam War and the 1972 Olympics
Chapter 2. Fade Out: Hollywood Movie Imports and the Cultural Surrender of the GDR Film Control in the 1970s and 1980s
Chapter 3. The Westernization of East German Television in the 1970s and 1980s
Chapter 4. Fighting Against All Odds: GDR Popular Music and Youth Radio in an International Context
Chapter 5. Western Consumer Culture or Bust: Intershops and East German Consumption Policies in the 1970s and 1980s
Epilogue: Out With the Old—In With the New? Wende, Ostalgie and the Serpentine Unification
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