Tourism and Consumption in Socialism

Paris, France
International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T2M)
28.09.2006 - 01.10.2006
Heike Wolter

'Tourism and Consumption in Socialism'

The International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T2M) invites proposals for papers to be presented at the Fourth International Conference on the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility, to be held in Paris and Marne-la-Vallée between 28th September and 1st October 2006. Papers of the panel 'Tourism and Consumption in Socialism' should address the historical relationship between tourism and transport, traffic and/or mobility linked to specific characteristic of socialist systems. Proposals exploring theoretical or methodological issues as well as those of a more empirical nature are very welcome. In this way we should be able to analyse the genesis, development and interaction of different cultures of travel in order to illuminate the various historical meanings of tourism. For more detailed information on the conference itself, please follow:

The conference language is English (only).The deadline for abstracts and a short cv (max. 1 page each; Word or rich text format only) is Tuesday 28th March 2006. Send proposals to I will forward all documents to T2M after designing a concise overview of what the session is about, why it matters, and how the papers each address the panel’s theme. Notification of acceptance will be sent by 30 April 2006. The full text of papers accepted must be submitted by 15 July 2006 if they are to be included on the conference CD-ROM sent in advance to all participants and if they are to be eligible for T2M Awards. All participants are absolutly required to register before the 1st September, in order to secure the conference programme.

The socialist societies in Middle and Eastern Europe were not only ‚economics of shortage’ (János Kornai). Firstly this means, there were differences in the dimensions of shortage. Secondly it means, that the socialist countries developed a specific socialist type of mass consumerism or consumer culture (Stephan Merl, Ina Merkel). This type does not conform to John Brewer’s six criteria of ‘modern or western consumer society’ (offer of a broad variety of goods, sophisticated communications system, development of distinguishing groups of objects, spheres of taste, of vogues and of style). Rather it followed a discrete logic that is on the one hand marked by shortage, but on the other hand characterised by a more or less apparent imitation of a western understanding of consumerism as well as by the forming of a specific socialist concept of consume and luxury.

As far as tourism history is considered one aspect of the whole history of consumption is extracted. Basing either on one case study or on comparative perspectives, the central questions are: To what extent was tourism a socio-political task and/or a consumistic desire of the population in socialist countries and how far did the governance understand tourism as economic factor? Are there any criteria for a socialist type of consumption? Which values cause this understanding of tourism?


Heike Wolter

Höflinger Ring 6
93083 Obertraubling

Tourism and Consumption in Socialism, 28.09.2006 – 01.10.2006 Paris, France, in: H-Soz-Kult, 02.03.2006, <>.