In Koenker’s The Proliterian Tourist in the 1930s, and Reagin’s Comparing Apples and Oranges, both authors place emphasis on specific societal institutions. Tourism in the Soviet Union became very politically focused during the inter-war period. In Germany, the ideals of consumption were promoted by housewives. Both articles provide basic insights into each organization and their various contributions to society. It is clear that in both the Soviet Union and Germany, tourism and housewife organizations were utilized for the promotion of political and social ideologies.
Koenker’s description of tourism was both intriguing and surprising; she argued that a concept as seemingly casual as tourism had intentions of a larger political scheme, which was to promote socialism, and stray away from the bourgeois life. While there are many obvious ways in which they implemented this change, it is shocking that the Soviets would turn to organizations like tourism to solve these issues. This essay is substantial, because it depicts the significance of everyday activities with regards to a larger political agenda.
Comparing Apples and Oranges was similarly striking in terms of highlighting Germany’s reliance on everyday institutions to solve social and political issues. What was surprising in this article was the reliance on women to solve such substantial issues. During the inter-war period, it was clear that the woman’s place was in the home. While this article supports that ideal, it argues that being a housewife was actually a crucial responsibility. Housewife organizations were responsible for promoting German manufactured goods, rationalization, and natural ingredients. It is surprising that women, as second-class citizens at that time, would be relied upon for such pressing issues.
Why were everyday organizations like tourism and housewife organizations targeted as catalysts for political change? Why were these specific groups believed to be beneficial to the political agendas of the Soviet Union and Germany?
I think the reason that tourism and housewife organizations were targeted is because there was so much change happening within them at the time. Women were gaining new work opportunities, yet at the same time traditional gender roles were being set. With all these changes came an instability and two sides to every new idea. With this I think it’s possible to see an easy use for them as beneficial to political agendas. This post is well-written, however it’s too much of a summary rather than an analysis. Your questions are very though-provoking, though.
For one, I think tourism was a catalyst for political change due to the fact that it offered outsiders exposure into a country they wouldn’t normally see. Here these tourists were only exposed to the positives of socialism, just as when tourists go to North Korea they are only allowed to see the “positives” of the country. Then, when the tourists are shown the “good” side of the countries’ ideals, they will go and spread the greatness of the country and in the Soviet Union’s case, of socialism.
Although your post has a lot of detail and is well written, it is more of a summary. If your blog focussed more around the questions you brought up at the end and if you added more of your personal opinion (your reaction perhaps) to the texts we were to read, then your blog would be a lot stronger. Tourism was a catalysts for political change because it brought an outsiders perspective into one’s home country. The home country was “showing off” for the tourists, showing them all of the positive aspects to socialism so they would spread the word to other countries. Housewife organizations were also targeted as a catalyst for political change because there was so much change revolved around them. Women began entering the work force and were receiving better and better jobs, but at the same time regulations were set so they knew their principal standing was as a mother and wife. Surrounding countries and tourists would see this progress and would spread the word saying it was good. Your questions are definitely thought provoking!
I think the reason the Germans focused so much attention on women has to do with the fixed identity they allowed her as a mother. Such a person has no value as an individual, yet remains important nonetheless because of the position they occupy at the base of society. They preoccupy themselves with raising children, shaping their values and imposing their limits, thereby moulding future citizens. In this sense, Germany effectively institutionalized womanhood.
I think that there is a type of correlation between the tourism in the Soviet Union and the improvement in the domestic sphere and alterations in women’s roles in Germany. Both are rooted in the behaviors of the individual, but spread out to affect and improve a sense of nationalism. Both stemmed from pride. Tourism allowed for workers to feel a sense of accomplishment and be able to take pride in the beauty of their country, while women could take pride in the fact that they were strengthening Germany through being more sustainable. Although your post is well written, it is too focused on summary rather than observations.