Shortage economy: production, distribution and consumption of clothes in Socialist Yugoslavia in the time of command economy (1945 – 1951)

  • Danijela Velimirović Department of Ethnology and Anthropology Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade
economy of scarcity, production, distribution, consumption, socialism, Yugoslavia, clothing


Starting from the concept of the “social life of things” proposed by Arjun Appadurai, the paper considers the “journey” of clothing items from production, through distribution to consumption in post-war Yugoslavia. Even though the rationing of clothing and footwear was caused by the destruction of war and subsequent insufficient production of these items due to the official favoring of heavy industry, the major part of consumers’ frustration was the result of structural characteristics of the command economy. Through comparison with the literature on the economy of scarcity in other socialist countries, we will strive to uncover the anomalies of the production and distribution systems, contradictions between the proclaimed ideological goals and everyday practices, the (non)hidden discontent of the citizens caused by the constant search for clothes that fit, as well as the importance of social bonds for the process of purchasing. The sources of data on bureaucratic planning and specific imbalances built into the system will be news articles and caricatures.


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