During their famous Kitchen Debate at the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow, US Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev argued over the relative merits of capitalism and communism, but they agreed on what success meant: nice furniture, big houses, and cool appliances. Both believed in the necessity of consumer citizenship in part because the mass production economies behind mass-produced domesticity meant lucrative contracts for both private corporations and state-owned enterprises. Like the defense corporations transforming Cold War fears into lucrative contracts, well-positioned individuals and firms in both countries understood that billions were at stake in the economy of domesticity. Much like the urbanization model that's driven the Chinese economy of the past twenty years, the mass housing projects of the United States and Soviet Union were vital to economic and political stability during the second half of the twentieth century. Both Nixon and Khrushchev understood that the success of their governments depended upon contented middle classes. Economic growth strongly influenced public opinion about political leadership and, by extension, government legitimacy. Nothing was more important to economic growth than housing. Each man fantasized about a future of beautiful mothers working effortlessly with electric mixers to feed their Cold War kids.
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