11538 - Lecturing consumers on their patriotic duties. A comparative look at propaganda in interwar Austria and Peronist Argentina

The presentation proposes to explore how the consumer was conceived as a patriot manqué in Austria and Argentina, two countries that moved from democracy to authoritarian rule and outright dictatorship. The focus will lie on a discourse as it was constructed through the institutional frame of promotional campaigns. In 1927 the Austrian Ministry of Trade and business organizations initiated the working group “Buy Austrian Goods”. Although they drew in labour and consumer organizations, business interests always maintained the lead. The declared goal of the campaign was to improve the trade balance and was seen by many as a substitute of high tariffs. Still, the working group did not cease to exist when Austria turned to formal protectionism in the 1930s. In the frame of a different economic policy the Peronist government also took a protectionist stance. Inward industrialisation achieved remarkable successes but around 1950 the post-war boom ended. Supply bottlenecks and rampant inflation became constant worries. This was when Peronist propaganda discovered the call for patriotic shopping behaviour. From an earlier focus on consumer rights Peronist campaigns now shifted towards highlighting the patriotic duties of consumers. In both cases the discursive construction of the citizen-consumer did not aim at his or her empowerment but at giving women, who were the principal target, a bad conscience. The capital sin of the Austrian consumer, especially the Viennese, was her purported preference for foreign products, which was deemed to be rooted in a combination of snobbery and a typically Austrian lack of self-esteem. In Argentina the moral failure of consumers consisted in excessive spending and a generally wasteful behaviour. The Peronist campaign therefore dwelled largely on fomenting thrift. The proposed presentation is part of a larger research project about buy-national campaigns, their political and economic contexts and institutional settings as well as their cultural and ideological implications.

Palavras-chaves: Consumption;citizen-consumer;patriotism;propaganda;corporatism

Autores: Kühschelm, Oliver (Institut für Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte, Austria / Österreich)


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