Selling Market Socialism: Hungary in the 1960s

SLAVIC REVIEW 73.1 (2014): 108-132

This article discusses the media portrayal of sales and marketing activities in the early phase of the Hungarian market reforms in the late 1960s. Using articles from the popular and specialist press and archive sources from Hungarian Radio and Television, the author argues that under the New Economic Mechanism (NEM), sellers were elevated as symbolic figures of market socialism and thus the modern socialist economy. The media portrayed sales activities as addressing endemic problems of the command economy, mediating production and consumption, and creating a buyer’s market in which sellers would compete for customers. This article provides a unique approach in examining the role of sellers and selling under the market socialism, adding to the rich literature on state socialist consumption and challenging the traditional view that Soviet bloc governments sought to control production and consumption independently and irrespective of their connection to the market.