Dropping out of Socialism

Research project key facts
Project title Dropping out of Socialism
School Humanities
Department History
Dates 01 July 2011 - 01 July 2014
Funder AHRC
Contact Dr Juliane Furst
Website Dropping Out of Socialism website

More about this project

The project 'Dropping out of Socialism' is a study of the hidden side of life in the former Soviet bloc. It investigates those cultures and life-styles under socialism which literally 'dropped out' of the picture - both out of the picture that was portrayed by the Eastern European communist regimes to its own public and the West and the picture that has since been created by historians and political scientists looking at the last decades of communism in Europe. 'Dropping out of Socialism' is devoted to the historical documentation and interpretation of social phenomena on the margins of socialist society: beatniks, hippies, punks, trampers, new-agers, hobos and any other group of people who had decided to ignore rather than comply with the official socialist code of behaviour and participation.

Most people express surprise when told that such cultures existed at all under the repressive conditions of the Eastern European communist regimes. Indeed, even in Eastern Europe itself little is known about alternative forms of life-style and ideology under socialism and much that is known is clouded in myth and prejudice. Drop-out cultures suffered not only from repression meted out by the regime but also from widespread social condemnation. Denied access to the official public sphere, persecuted by the security organs and eyed with mistrust by the upright, socialist citizen, drop-out cultures under socialism live on mostly in the memory of its participants and in the photographic and cinematic evidence of their heydays in the 1970s and 80s. Yet this memory is quickly disappearing with its participants (many of whom due to an extraordinarily unhealthy life-style do not live into old age).

People involved in this project

Principal investigator: