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The political and social construction of povertyCentral and Eastern European countries in transition$
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Serena Romano

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447312710

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447312710.001.0001

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The lifespan of a model: the construction of poverty before 1989

The lifespan of a model: the construction of poverty before 1989

(p.27) TWO The lifespan of a model: the construction of poverty before 1989
The political and social construction of poverty

Serena Romano

Policy Press

Chapter two reviews the main characteristics of the socialist welfare state model and its comprehensive system of redistribution based on full (albeit formal) employment, universal benefits and goods and a generous pro-natalist family support. The main ethical frameworks of the communist stigmatization of poverty until 1989 will be examined along with the question of why poverty and social inequalities were long neglected, with poor people accused of being “parasites” and even persecuted by communist propaganda. This chapter will also provide an overview of Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Estonia and Slovenia before the transition. The chapter shows that while it became almost impossible under communism to study and discuss poverty as a phenomenon, the planned market and its overall system of redistribution introduced a distinctive form of welfare distortion favouring the bureaucratic elites (the nomenklatura) to the detriment of “regular people” who increasingly experienced more severe forms of poverty and social inequality.

Keywords:   soviet social contract, communism, welfare distortions, parasite poor, censorship

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