Market Dreams: Gender, Class, and Capitalism in the Czech Republic

In This Review

Market Dreams: Gender, Class, and Capitalism in the Czech Republic

By Elaine Weiner
University of Michigan Press, 2007
168 pp. $60.00
Purchase

Czech women, Weiner finds, have bought into the positive mythology of the new capitalism, even when the new order has worked to their disadvantage. Postcommunist reform, she argues, brought not merely new institutions and opportunities, producing winners and losers, but also a "meta-story" promising a future of material success and personal satisfaction to those of virtue -- virtue being juxtaposed with the sloth, dependency, and lack of initiative of a discredited socialist past. Based on her in-depth interviews of 74 Czech women (26 of whom had moved into managerial positions in firms and 48 of whom were line workers, mostly in their 30s and 40s), what she discovers is not surprising at one level: the first group, proud of its success and relishing success' rewards, embraces the meta-story and happily recites it. More surprisingly, so do the working-class women who have lost ground. The "radiant future" they believe in is not for them but for their offspring. Furthermore, neither group makes room for gender politics as part of the story, even though statistics show unmistakable signs of gender discrimination.