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  • 1 Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest
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The essay examines the popular Hungarian weekly women’s magazine Nők Lapja through the Sixties socialist consumption and the culture of objects and the discourse concerning the image of the socialist woman, not from the perspective of economics or the history of consumption, but from the point of view of cultural history. It focuses on the change of strategy during the Cold War, which from the side of the West signified the use of soft power, while in the East it implied the modification of socialist modernization, in so far as emphasis was shifted from aggressive armament and the conquest of space to everyday prosperity and consumption. The narrower segment under examination is the project in the Sixties that addressed the modernization of the kitchen and the woman of the house, a project which extended to the manufacturing of household appliances aimed at facilitating domestic chores faced by women who also had full time jobs, the introduction of a network of self-service businesses, the expansion of the use of canned food, as well as hygiene, environmental culture and the cultivation of taste. According to the imagery and the texts found in publications of the time, posters and women’s magazines, it was not socialist modernism and the official policy of emancipation that confronted the inherited mentality of the masses as a hindering factor, although this is what contemporary official discourse attempted to imply. This mode of discourse, the style in which the modernization of the household and the housewife and the expansion of consumption was communicated through pictures, advertisements and objects conserved old patriarchal topoi in opposition to the official political discourse of emancipation.