'...WE'VE BECOME ACCUSTOMED'. PROLEGOMENA TO THE SOCIO-MODERNISATION BACKDROP OF THE 'MEAT-PROBLEM' IN THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF POLAND
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The author drew attention to changes introduced by the inclusion of meat into the daily diet of European and North American workers during the nineteenth and twentieth century, associated with the material promotion of this particular social group. In the post-1945 Poland this phenomenon was accompanied by an adaptation of petty bourgeois cultural norms and customs by the workers, and in time also by the peasants. The ensuing situation produced a considerable pressure exerted upon the meat market by the consumers, which increasingly decapitalised and under–invested agriculture was incapable to meet. Furthermore, Polish society frequently assessed the effectiveness and efficacy of the authorities through the prism of the functioning of the meat market. Fearing mass–scale protests, the authorities did not balance the market by raising prices, but maintained growing subsidies for food articles. All attempts at price rises caused social disturbances which, upon two occasions (1970, 1976), forced the authorities to withdraw the changes. In 1980 the scale of the imbalance of demand and supply led to the introduction of a control of meat and processed meat products, a system which ultimately broke down in 1989, when in view of the Round Table talks and rumours about anticipated price rises, the peasants ceased selling meat. The final regulation of the meat market was achieved by introducing market prices in the summer of 1989. While discussing the reasons for the chronic imbalance of supply and demand, the author pointed out the co-existence of a system of trading and distributing food products, which since 1948 was state-owned and subjected to the directives of the authorities, and agriculture, composed primarily of private farms and reacting to market stimuli.
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