Christopher S. Swader. The Capitalist Personality: Face-to-Face Sociality and Economic Change in the Post-Communist World. New York: Routledge, 2013

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Oksana Shmulyar Gréen


Post-Socialist Value Change, Shift to Capitalism, Capitalist Personality, Interpersonal Relations, Individualism, Family-Work Conflict


The book under review, published in 2013, is a sociological study exploring what happens to human intimacy within capitalism. Posing the question of “how values change in connection with the shift to capitalist culture” (1), the book provides an illuminative analysis of how economically successful people in post-Communist societies value their intimate face-to-face interactions and relationships differently from earlier generations. The societies within the loop of Swader’s study are China, Russia, and Eastern Germany. These countries, having a common history of Communist rule, differ, according to Swader, across several key dimensions relevant to the measurement of value change, including their recent socialist history, religion, level of industrialization and techno-bureaucratic development, external economic support for transformation, and so forth. The underlying assumption in this study is that the formation of a "capitalist personality" among successful men in these societies is achieved at a high social cost, namely the weakening of face-to-face sociality and intimacy.

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