In Diane P. Koenker’s The Proletarian Tourist and Nancy Reagin’s Comparing Apples and Oranges, both authors describe how inter-war governments attempted to utilize cultural organizations to help shape and influence public behavior. Koenker’s work addresses the Soviet aim to foster tourism in order to serve the good of the state while at the same time enhancing the individualism of every person who participates in this endeavor. Reagin described the German housewives efforts to shape both the purchasing behavior and technological modernization within the household by doing it in a manner that was socially and economically responsible for Germany’s well being.
In Apples and Oranges, I thought it was interesting how German housewives were significantly influenced by their American counterparts. While the American model was viewed favorably and heavily incorporated by German housewives, certain components of it were considered highly wasteful and lazy. There was an example in the text that stated how most American housewives simply bought a new pair of underwear instead of washing the soiled pair because it is easier to do so. The German housewives tried to distinguish themselves from the Americans by preaching resourcefulness and hard work. A good German housewife would much rather buy a plethora of apples, store them in the cellar, and work hard to preserve their freshness than taking the easy route by buying fruits that are imported and in season. There are certain behavioral traits that German women took a great deal of pride in.
I noticed how the sources from The Proletarian Tourist were nearly all first hand. Koenker did a fantastic job interpreting and incorporating this information. Reagin on the other hand utilized a variety of source types in her piece. I believe that this difference can be attributed to the amount of focus that historical scholars have placed on each topic. I would imagine that tourism in the Soviet Union is not a topic that has received a great deal of attention compared to that of German housewives from the same period.
Was tourism unique to the Soviet Union during this period, or do you believe that similar practices were occurring throughout other parts of Europe for the same reasons?