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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg 2021

The people’s own media: Workers representation in Czechoslovak Socialist Television

Sebastian Lambertz

Abstract

Even though on first sight socialist rule might appear as monolithic and totalitarian with no room for individual agency, people living in socialist societies nevertheless experienced substantial possibilities of self-determination. Especially workers as the socialist vanguard and most privileged societal group had certain spaces to negotiate the conditions of their everyday life with the regime. This paper seeks to identify such spaces of negotiation by analysing the exchanges between Czechoslovak Television (ČST - Československá televize) and its viewers with regard to the role of entertainment in the daily programme throughout the 1960s. Here, the audience’s agency contrasts the new media’s significance for the Communist Party as a crucial part of ideological education. The paper demonstrates that it was actually the Party’s efforts to build a socialist consciousness, which empowered workers to claim self-determination about their leisure time. Letters to the makers of TV programmes thus became an avenue to stake claims for the cultural sovereignty of the people. This reveals a perhaps surprising space of this contest: television programmes and entertainment. In the context of limited parliamentary and public channels for participation, these became an important arena as alternative channels for claiming participation were not available.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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