1st Edition

De-Stalinization and the House of Culture Declining State Control over Leisure in the USSR, Poland and Hungary, 1953–1989

By Anne White Copyright 1990
    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    De-Stalinization and the House of Culture (1990) looks at the houses of culture – arts centres which in the Stalinist period functioned as agencies of political socialisation – and the changes in their character and functions since Stalin’s death. This book explores the diminishing control of the Communist Party over public leisure from 1953 to the present day, as one aspect of the de-Stalinization and the dismantling of the totalitarian system. It focuses on the changing nature and functions of the ‘cultural enlightenment’ conducted in houses of culture and similar institutions. Public rejection of the Stalinist attempt to saturate all leisure activities with propaganda and to liquidate many national cultural traditions have gradually forced the party to relinquish much of its leading role in this area. The book compares this process in three different Soviet-type systems, the USSR, Poland and Hungary. It discusses depoliticization of house of culture activities and, especially in the era of perestroika, their eventual repoliticization by unofficial associations concerned with a mix of political, cultural, social and environmental issues. Today the house of culture, a quintessentially Stalinist institution, paradoxically provides a home for an emergent civil society.

    1. De-Stalinization, Ideology and Leisure Policy  2. A Brief History of Cultural Enlightenment  3. Changing Content – Changing Goals?  4. Policy and Practice 1: Party and State  5. Policy and Practice 2: House of Culture Staff and the Public  6. The Effectiveness of Cultural Enlightenment  7. Conclusions: the Death of Communist Cultural Enlightenment?


    Anne White studied History and Russian at the University of Oxford before lecturing at the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland. After gaining her PhD at the London School of Economics and Political Science she was Lecturer in Russian, then Senior Lecturer in Russian and East European Studies, University of Bath, 1987–2014, before being appointed Professor of Polish Studies and Social and Political Science, SSEES, UCL.