The Seductive Automobile: Automobile Culture as a Vehicle for Americanization, 1950-1973 Open Access

Going, Nicholas Linas (2013)

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In the post World War II era, Europe remained war-torn and in need of reconstruction. Countries in Western Europe aligned themselves with the democratic, capitalistic model espoused by the United States, while Eastern Europe was swallowed up by Soviet Communist influence. With the aid of the Marshall Plan, American companies began selling goods to Western European consumers, and through their advertising, ended up selling consumers a version of American life. Sheltered behind the Iron Curtain, Eastern Europeans did not participate in the mass American consumer culture that was spreading in Western Europe. At the center of this consumer narrative was the automobile, as Western Europeans expressed their desire to participate in American consumer culture by buying cars. However, Eastern Europeans displayed a similar fascination for the automobile in their respective cultures, despite being restrained by Communism. This project examines the development of car cultures in West Germany, East Germany, and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and reveals the differences and similarities with American car culture. Studying car culture in these countries also reveals a lot about materialistic desire in Eastern Europe and how this desire was linked to American consumer culture.

Table of Contents

Pictures: 1

Introduction: The World of Car Culture. 2

Chapter 1: An Exportable Culture. 8

Chapter 2: Cars as Artifacts of the American Consumer Empire. 20

Chapter 3: Fahvergnügen- Driving Pleasure in West Germany. 31

Chapter 4: The Trabi Culture. 49

Chapter 5: The Soviet Dream. 64

Conclusion: Why Cars are Seductive. 78

Bibliography: 84

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