Hardback
September 15, 2020
9789633863510
English
456
9.21 Inches (US)
6.26 Inches (US)
1.65 Pounds (US)
$105.00 USD, £85.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Austerities and Aspirations

A Comparative History of Growth, Consumption, and Quality of Life in East Central Europe since 1945

This monograph provides an analysis of the economic performance and living standard in Czechoslovakia and its successor states, Hungary, and Poland since 1945. The novelty of the book lies in its broad comparative perspective: it places East Central Europe in a wider European framework that underlines the themes of regional disparities and European commonalities. Going beyond the traditional growth paradigm, the author systematically studies the historical patterns of consumption, leisure, and quality of life—aspects that Tomka argues can best be considered in relation to one other. By adopting this "triple approach," he undertakes a truly interdisciplinary research drawing from history, economics, sociology, and demography.

As a result of Tomka's three-pillar comparative analysis, the book makes a major contribution to the debates on the dynamics of economic growth in communist and postcommunist East Central Europe, on the socialist consumer culture along with its transformation after 1990, and on how the accounts on East Central Europe can be integrated into the emerging field of historical quality of life research.

About the Author

Béla Tomka is Professor of History at the Department of Contemporary History, University of Szeged, Hungary

Reviews

"The prominent Hungarian social historian, Béla Tomka, has written an important book on socialist and post-socialist economies in Central Europe. His central tenet is that the traditional analysis of economic growth and living standards, which quantitative economic historians have undertaken, does not provide a complete picture of comparative economic development. Only by investigating what growth meant for ordinary consumers and households, can we understand the motives for modernisation and evaluate its societal impact. Austerities and Aspirations makes the ambitious attempt to assess the economic development of East Central Europe in a comparative perspective based on three dimensions of progress: growth, the standard of living, and consumption."—Tamás Vonyó, Connections

"The well-constructed book consists of five main chapters, with several sub- chapters leaving space for the elaboration of details. The introduction conceptualizes the triple approach to well-being: the concepts of economic growth, consumption, and quality of life. Tomka explains his approach by saying that it is meant to overcome the deficiencies of economic analysis focusing merely on GDP and economic output, while the available data on consumption practices and quality of life might facilitate a more complex understanding of economic and social history. While an overall analysis is given of thirteen Western and Northern countries considered to be 'Western Europe', the focus is on East Central Europe, which in this case is restricted to the V4 countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary)."
http://ojs.elte.hu/hsce/article/view/2947/2780—Fanni Svégel, Historical Studies on Central Europe

"The author's main aim is to present the economic growth not only in terms of GDP growth, but also in terms of improvements in consumption and the quality of life, as opposed to previous research. His argument is convincing: GDP has a number of components that do not at all reflect the real living standards of a society. Béla Tomka's book is indispensable for those looking for data on the history of the post-1945 era. One can argue with the narrative, but much less with the data."
http://real.mtak.hu/138094/1/Cental_European_Horizons_doi_10.51918ceh.2021.2.7.pdf—Miklós Mitrovits, Cental European Horizons

"Austerities and Aspirations provides a 'triple approach' to economic development in East-Central Europe (Poland, Czechoslovakia and its successor states, and Hungary). Aiming to go beyond the perspective of economic growth alone, Tomka considers economic growth along with consumption and quality of life. Taking a comparative perspective, he assesses convergences and divergences between East-Central Europe and Western Europe. In the reviewer's opinion, the book is a useful comparative study of various economic developments in the region, but Tomka remains rather implicit about his value judgement behind choosing certain economic indicators and does not engage with more critical approaches to economic growth."—Martin Babička, Soudobé Dějiny

Endorsements

"For economists, economic growth is about models, tables, and charts; for an average citizen, it is primarily the thickness of the wallet which translates into the contents of a refrigerator and the quality of a place to live, a car, or a holiday. Béla Tomka combines both perspectives with extraordinary competence, showing the complex and ambiguous economic space of Central and Eastern Europe from the end of WWII to the first decade of the twenty-first century. His book, based on huge and varied material, explains why dreams prevailed over needs in this region, and why the driving force of the economy was (and still is) the pursuit of the escaping West. It allows for a better understanding of both the current fears and aspirations in the former socialist countries, and the still clear longing for the world before 1989."—Jerzy Kochanowski
Central European University Press

9789633863510 : austerities-and-aspirations-tomka
Hardback
456 Pages
$105.00 USD

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