Eastern Europe, socialism, labor history, working class, theoretical approaches

In the last three decades, the analytical categories of class and labor often appeared as having lost their luster for many social scientists and historians. This is especially true for scholars working on Eastern Europe, where after the fall of state socialist regimes the language of class was frequently presented as exhausted and burdened by political misuse. The instrumentalization of class was a protracted one, practiced first and foremost by the state socialist elites and subsequently by the postsocialist authorities. The communist party-states conceived of workers almost exclusively as a politically united and combative historical actor endowed with pregiven purpose. The communists ruled in the name of the working classes, and it was of the utmost importance for the official historiographies to follow the teleological assumptions of steady...

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