Technological Innovation, Modernity, and Electric Goods in Late State Socialist Poland deconstructs the public performance of technological innovation and imagined modernity in relation to the home technologies market in late state socialist Poland. While doing so, Patryk Wasiak sheds light on the politics that accompanied the modes of representations of the new innovative consumer technologies in the public sphere and the agenda of actors who performed such representations. This book argues that the central form of the mediation of home technologies was the projection of specific “sociotechnical imaginaries” that included visions of how these technologies would have an impact on the creation of a desirable future social order and economy. Later, such imaginaries were re-negotiated and challenged as infeasible or undesirable. The author demonstrates how expert groups, the industry lobby, research institutes, and non-governmental organizations attempted to secure their role as intermediary actors in order to have a tangible impact on not only the production of commodities, but more importantly, on the definition of which commodity, or a product feature, is modern and innovative and which is obsolete.
Patryk Wasiak is associate professor at Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw.
List of Abbreviations
1. The Cultural Logic of State Socialism, Intermediary Actors, and Technological Innovation
2. Performance of Modernity
3. Qualities of Socialist Electric Goods
4. Case Studies
About the Author
In his investigation of the social life of electronic goods in late socialist Poland, Patryk Wasiak has uncovered important connections between consumer desire, the failures and successes of the command economy, and human ingenuity. Carefully researched and surprising in its conclusions, this is an important book.
Firmly rooted in scholarship and unearthing previously untapped sources, Patryk Wasiak sheds light on the ‘performance of modernity’ enacted by the conception, production, and promotion of electric appliances in late socialist Poland. It is a solid analysis of the discursive strategies undertaken by various actors in order to highlight the domestic industry’s achievements and gloss over (or actually uncover) its flaws. This book is a crucial contribution to the history of consumer technology in Eastern Europe.