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Department Stores in Zagreb during Socialist Yugoslavia


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Žimbrek, Ivana Mihaela. (2017). Department Stores in Zagreb during Socialist Yugoslavia. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Comparative Literature
Department of Art History. [mentor Grdešić, Maša and Damjanović, Dragan].

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This master's thesis discusses the architectural, as well as the cultural history of department stores built in the Croatian capital Zagreb during the period of Socialist Yugoslavia, by tracing the development which lasted from the end of the Second World War until the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Consequently, the object of this study is twofold – on the one hand, it's aim is to describe the transformation of architectural and urbanistic characteristics of department stores as physical spaces, while, on the other hand, it tries to answer the question of the role that department stores had as spaces of consumerism inside the wider frame of modernisation processes and the development of a particular culture of socialist consumerism in Yugoslavia. This study was primarily conducted through the analysis of different types of archival sources, a range of professional and popular periodicals related to topics such as architecture, urbanism, commerce and consumption, as well as examples from popular culture, film and literature. As a result, this research was approached by a combination of interdisciplinary methods like visual and discourse analysis, adapted inside the wider frame of disciplines such as architectural history, history of everyday life and cultural studies. After a short discussion of department stores as architectural, social and cultural spaces, as well as the process of their transformation from the 19th into the 20th century, the first part of the thesis focuses on the period of the 1950s and 1960s by describing how the political circumstances of the Cold War and the sudden economic development affected the rise of a specific type of socialist consumerism. This phase is also marked by the introduction of first supermarkets and department stores, which were built as a part of massive modernisation projects intended to improve the standard of living and various aspects of everyday life of Yugoslavian citizens. The second part of the thesis addresses the period of the 1970s and the 1980s, which was characterized by the gradual liberalization and ultimately abandonment of the socialist project. These changes were reflected in architecture with large scale modernization projects being replaced by a focus on individual visions, parallel to the introduction of the postmodernist discourse. Alongside this, the culture of socialist consumerism reached its peak in the late 1970s by permeating every aspect of socialist everyday life in Yugoslavia, including popular culture, literature and mass media, which was followed by the economic and political decline of the 1980s, ending in the breakup of Yugoslavia a decade later. In conclusion, by analysing examples of the so called architecture of everyday life, such as department stores, this study helps to understand not only the interconnectivity between political, economic and social transformations, on the one side, and architectural and urbanistic development on the other, but also the important and perhaps unexpected part that spaces of consumerism, in both the physical and discursive sense, have played in the complex modernisation processes in socialist Yugoslavia.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: everyday life, consumerism, department store, modernisation, Yugoslavia
Subjects: Comparative literature
History of art
Departments: Department of Comparative Literature
Department of Art History
Supervisor: Grdešić, Maša and Damjanović, Dragan
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2017 08:41
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2017 08:41

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