Archiv für Sozialgeschichte
Band XLIII/ 2003 - Summaries

Detlef Siegfried,

Einstürzende Neubauten. Community Flats, Youth Centres and the Private Preferences of Communist "Cadres" as Forms of Youth Subculture

The cultural and political activities of the mainly leftist youth subcultures of the 1970s were attempts to find new modes of style development and of autonomous participation in contemporary discussions and debates. This happened to a considerable degree outside the established framework of political participation, state care facilities or private forms of habitation. This is investigated in detail, by looking at communes and communal apartments, which became popular after 1967, as well as youth centres, which, in the 1970s, provided a novel framework for the organisation of youths' leisure time. Particularly advanced experiments, charged with broad claims for social change, can be observed in the years between 1968 and approximately 1973, whereas afterwards it was rather mundane, pragmatic hybrids which emerged, being more suitable to the demands of everyday life. Most of the remaining radical movements came to an end in the last third of the 1970s. The protagonists of these subcultures ostentatiously articulated needs, which achieved a certain significance in the course of the commencing change of values within society as a whole, but which also, to some extent, continued to oppose these values. Whereas the concentration on the reproductive sphere, on one's separation from a nuclear family lifestyle and on the pursuit of individual autonomy went hand in hand with changes in social structures and values - and partly accelerated these changes -, those attempts, which tried to restrict individual development in favour of collective principles, failed. This became particularly clear - as is shown in this essay - within the spectrum of the Communist Parties, which emerged after 1968, and which set themselves the goal of disciplining their rather anti-authoritarian membership. It also turned out that the goal of comprehensive self-organisation could not be realised in full, as it was not embraced by all individuals to the same degree.


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