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Women, Communism, and Industrialization in Postwar Poland


  • 8 b/w illus. 1 map
  • Page extent: 296 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.61 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 331.409438/09045
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: HX315.7.A6 .F53 2010
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Women communists--Poland--History--20th century
    • Women--Poland--Social conditions
    • Poland--Economic conditions--1945-
    • Post-communism--Poland--History

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521196871)

Conventional historical accounts of European communism tend to delegate women to the margins. By focusing on female industrial workers in postwar Poland, Malgorzata Fidelis demonstrates that women, in fact, were central to the making of communist society both as subjects of policies and ideology, and as powerful historical agents in their own right. This book uncovers a dynamic story of political contestation between state and society, in which ideas and practices of gender played a surprisingly pivotal role. Through fascinating material ranging from previously untapped party and secret police records to ordinary people's letters to the press and oral interviews, the book offers new insights on the social impact of war, struggles on the shop-floor, the challenges of incorporating village girls into fast-moving industrial society, the societal resistance against women entering male-dominated occupations, and finally the unexpected consequences of liberalization and reform.

• The only comprehensive historical book on women and communism in Poland and in Eastern Europe (except the GDR) in English • Centers on social and cultural history and reveals the central role of women and gender to the making of communist society • Utilizes new material: untapped archival materials (records of the ruling Communist party in Poland and the secret police) and personal interviews among others


Introduction; 1. Visions of equality: the state, the church, and women's sections; 2. Heroines and rebels: accommodation and resistance on the shop floor; 3. From village to factory: creating the new proletarians; 4. New women for new occupations: the case of coal mining; 5. Women astray: debating sexuality and reproduction during the thaw; 6. Reforming the system, protecting motherhood: contradictions of the post-stalinist experience; Epilogue: from communism to post-communism; Appendix I. List of archives and abbreviations; Appendix II. Personal interviews.


'Malgorzata Fidelis provides a significant and comprehensive research study that questions conventional historical accounts of women and communism within the European context. … provides a rich and nuanced account of the ways in which gender was taken up by state and society who shifted its meaning depending on social and politico-economic needs of the time.' Canadian Woman Studies

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