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Women under State Socialism

A Review of Women, Communism, and Industrialization in Postwar Poland by Malgorzata Fidelis

In: Historical Materialism
Author: Anna Kowalczyk1
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Malgorzata Fidelis in her book Women, Communism, and Industrialization in Postwar Poland sets out to examine gender policies during Stalinism and their transformation under the subsequent ‘Polish road to socialism’. She shows that the relative political liberalisation in the late 1950s was also accompanied by the abandonment of policies favouring women and the return to conservative prewar gender hierarchies. The essay finds that the book is a valuable contribution to the understanding of the vicissitudes of gender struggle during Communism in Poland. It also makes a contribution to the understanding of how the principles declared by the Communist Party were modified in response not only to economic necessities but also to local cultures and popular struggles. In this way it sheds light on the process of the legitimation of the Communist regime in Poland and beyond by accommodating demands from below.

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