GREEK ADVERTIZING DISCOURSE RELATED TO “EROS”

[Work in progress – The text below constitutes a sub-section of our study entitled Amalia Eleftheriadou, and the question of advertizing, 1950’s – 1970’s > The “adjustive” type of advertizing discourse: the issue of “eros” and work. It follows the sub-section: Advertizing discourse related to work and/or the “work ethic”. It may also be read as an independent text].

 

Advertisements related to the “erotic” would promote “standards of beauty” that would often have to adjust to local tastes – alternatively, they would have to reflect continental or international “standards” that suited local tastes (cf. our discussion of the “LUX” soap above, and especially our references to the excellent work of Geoffrey Jones dealing with the relation between “globalization” and the more flexible “standards of beauty”).

One such “standard of beauty” in 1960’s Greece was, of course, the size of the female breast. Young Greek females would especially identify with large-breasted sex-symbols that appeared on the silver screen. Two main examples of such film stars were the Italian Sophia Loren and the French Brigitte Bardot. Although both were international stars, they symbolized a sexuality that was closer to home, both originating from Europe, where they began their film careers in the 1950’s. Bardot’s large-breasted image was especially promoted via her role in popularizing the bikini in the 1950’s. While the time would come when at least a segment of women would wish to undergo breast reduction surgery, one major fashion trend in the 1960’s would be to stick to the provocative sexuality of the large female breast. On the other hand, of course, we would also have the “Twiggy look” in that same period, which seemed to reject the image of the large-breasted female (as in the 1920’s and 1930’s, large breasts were in this case seen as being more expressive of the so-called “breeding class”). In Greece, in any case, most young Greek females would wish to meet “standards of beauty” reminiscent of a Loren or a Bardot. In 1964, the periodical Ρομάντσο would carry the following advertisement:

 

«LAIDABEILLE… φυσικόν προϊόν
Βασιλικού Πολτού… ηγγυημένον
παρά των Γαλλικών Αρχών…
ενδείκνυται δε και δια την ταχείαν
ανάπτυξιν του στήθους δια τας
καθυστερημένας…»
(cf. Ρομάντσο, Αριθ. Τεύχ. 1125, 29.9.1964,
my emph.).

 

This type of advertizing discourse captures one essential aspect of the as real needs of the “Amalia-type” of the 1960’s, and such needs were the other side of the coin which encompassed the “work ethic”. The “New Type” was as much work-conscious as she was sex-conscious. Further, the discourse blurs the distinction, so emphatically presented by J.K. Galbraith in 1967, between advertisements serving “physical” needs and those serving “psychological” needs (cf. his The new industrial state, op. cit., p. 206). It is quite obvious that the “LAIDABEILLE” advertisement does exactly what Galbraith had identified as characterizing discourse serving such “psychological” needs – it is certainly meant to “serve sexual aspiration”, “promise social acceptability” and “contribute by conventional canons to personal beauty” (ibid.). But we know that in the context of the sexual revolution, and given the re-evaluation of past “ethicalist” values, all such so-called “psychological” needs were as real as wanting to eat a slice of bread or thirsting for a glass of water. In fact, one of the reasons that the female “New Type” would choose to work was to enable her to fulfill certain – by now necessary – “psychological” needs pertaining to the consumption of personal toiletries requisite for meeting certain “standards of beauty”. Even her ultimate wish to pursue a “career” would itself be of a “psychological” nature, at least in the sense that it related to “equality” between the sexes. The rise of the middle class milieu would blur, not only the difference between work and “eros”, but also the difference between “physical” and “psychological” need – in the last instance, the middle class milieu was a psycho-cultural phenomenon materialized by hard work in the economic terrain.

Thus, the “economic Darwinism” we have been referring to above would be accompanied by a “socio-cultural Darwinism” whereby females would compete with one another around issues related to personal sexuality and beauty. Physically speaking, this could also take the form of competing over breast-size. It was in just such social context that the “LAIDABEILLE” advertisement needs to be understood: its promise to rapidly increase breast-size was simply reflecting the “psycho-physical” needs of females at the time. We know that even since the late 1950’s, there was an increasing popular demand for this “Royal Jelly” produced by French-based laboratories (cf., for instance, https://archive.org/stream... “The chemist and druggist [electronic resource]”). The product was in fact meant “to regenerate the body” (ibid.) and the particular discourse promoting “LAIDABEILLE” in the 1960’s would be going just a bit too far in suggesting that it could also “generate” breast-size as such. In that sense, the advertizing discourse was provocatively misleading – on the other hand, the young female of the 1960’s would perhaps have felt some such need for “psychological” games-playing relating to the placebo response: consuming the “Royal Jelly” would boost her confidence with respect to “sexual aspiration” and “social acceptability” (and we need again remember the psychological dimension of the middle class milieu).

If it is true that the “LAIDABEILLE” advertisement was overstating the potentialities of its “Royal Jelly”, it was – we are implying – doing so in a manner which actually adjusted to the needs and fantasies of the “Amalia-type”: it would be the “natural” drives of young females belonging to such “type” that could force advertizing discourse on issues of physical beauty to make such overstatements. Were the discourse itself not to make exaggerated promises, the cultural practices of the “Amalia-type” would find their own ways in which such promises could be fulfilled. It is difficult to imagine what young ladies could resort to in their attempts to augment breast-size – the following quote, taken from the 1966 advice columns of the daily newspaper, Απογευματινή, allows us to suspect the extreme forms such practices could take:

 

«Η κ. Αριέτ απαντά εις επιστολάς…

κ. ΖΩΗ ΔΕΣΠΟΙΝΑ:
Πρέπει να ξέρετε πως οι μαστοί είναι
το πιο ευαίσθητο μέρος του γυναικείου
οργανισμού. Δεν είναι λοιπόν φρόνιμον
να κάνετε πάνω στο στήθος σας αυτό που
σκέπτεσθε διότι όταν τα στήθη είναι πολύ
μικρά καμμιά αποτελεσματική θεραπεία
δεν υπάρχει που να τα μεγαλώνη»
(cf. Απογευματινή, 29.1.1966, p. 6).

 

By 1980, the variety of breast shape and size would be a matter of discussion amongst females belonging to the matured and by now solidly developed “Amalia-type” – even the more highbrow periodicals like Επίκαιρα would carry texts such as the following:

 

«ΔΙΑΛΕΞΕ κι εσύ ένα στήθος, μπορείς.
Και γιατί όχι; Η τεχνολογία του καιρού μας
προσφέρει τις δυνατότητες να αποκτήσουμε
όποιες αναλογίες θέλουμε και κυρίως ένα
στήθος τροφαντό, προκλητικό. Ένα όπλο
γοητείας, που το μέγεθός του ακολουθεί τα
γούστα της εποχής, αλλά κυρίως τα γούστα
των ανδρών. Το καουτσούκ, η σιλικόνη, οι
ορμόνες, οι ενέσεις νερού δημιουργούν
στήθος πλούσιο και προκλητικό. Οι στρίπ-τηζέζ,
οι διάφορες σταρ τύπου σεξοβόμβας και
εκείνοι του τρίτου φύλου σπεύδουν σε κάποιο
χειρούργο που φροντίζει να διορθώσει όσα
ξέφυγαν από τη σμίλη του Πανάγαθου.
Συχνές βέβαια οι μολύνσεις και οι επιπλοκές,
η λαχτάρα όμως για ένα ωραίο στήθος, έστω
από σιλικόνη, είναι τόσο επιτακτική ώστε
σπεύδουν να το αποκτήσουν με κίνδυνο της
ζωής τους»
(cf. Επίκαιρα, Αρ. Τεύχ. 601, 7.2.1980, p. 87).

 

Thus far, in this sub-section, we have considered texts which focused exclusively on physical beauty (and therefore the “erotic lifeworld”) of the “Amalia-type”. Taken in conjunction with discourse pertaining to work and “careerism”, one can already see that the recipient of such discourse-as-a-whole would already be initiated to a wider “lifeworld” that presented work and “eros” as part of a single, albeit contradictory and tension-filled, experience. What we shall now do is examine a number of texts, especially direct advertizing discourse as such, which somehow linked the world of work to that of “eros”. Precisely given the contradictions and tensions that objectively operated between these two terrains, the linkage would be materialized in various subtle forms symptomatic of an ideological discourse that was in the process of developing in various gradations of sophistication.

One such advertisement appeared in a 1967 issue of the popular periodical, Συλλογή – it yet again concerned itself with the female breast and read as follows:

 

«Triumph INTERNATIONAL…

Χαρήστε στον εαυτό σας ένα σουτιέν DOREEN.
Χαρήστε του χάρι, κομψότητα, άνεσι, σιγουριά.
Το DOREEN είναι σχεδιασμένο από την TRIUMPH
για όλα τα σώματα, μελετημένο για όλες τις
περιστάσεις. Το DOREEN με τις φίνες δαντέλλες
και την τέλεια εφαρμογή κοστίζει δρχ. 195.
LYCRA®»
(cf. Συλλογή, Έτος 1, Τεύχ. 1, December 1967, p. 4).

Before discussing the discourse of this advertisement, we could perhaps make a few observations with respect to the well-known company, “Triumph International”. By 1902, the company was to reach the position of the leading lingerie manufacturer in Europe. In 1953, it begins trading under the name “Triumph International”. Between the years 1954 and 1959, it expands throughout most of the continent. By 1960, its European business is expanded into France, Spain, Portugal and Greece.

It would be in 1966 that “Triumph” would launch the “DOREEN” lingerie range, promoted – inter alia – via the Συλλογή advertisement one year later. The company would also begin its production of bikinis in the early 1960’s.

As regards the general advertizing discourse used by the company, we may observe that, starting from the 1960’s and through to the 1970’s, it would adopt what has been referred to as “a new direction” (cf. www.triumph.com/uk/en/7774.html, for most of the data presented here). Such “new direction” would mean that advertizing discourse would be directed at “the self-assured woman”, suggesting that the woman of the period would be expected to be a winner both in the world of work and in that of “play” – since what was being promoted was lingerie, there would be a strong emphasis on sexuality).

The advertizing discourse of a company such as “Triumph” was set to the rhythms of the “Swinging Sixties” and then to those of the “Wild Seventies”. Naturally, “Triumph” discourse expressed a latent opposition to the “bra-burning” trend of the 1960’s, and in that it would fully reflect the psychology and cultural orientation of the “Amalia-type”.

The source cited above encapsulates the semantics of “Triumph International” advertizing discourse, with its emphasis on body culture and female sexuality, as follows:

 

“Youth and sexual freedom become
important advertising themes: beauty,
sexuality and sensuality are depicted
realistically. A fully transparent bra is
advertised in Germany with the slogan
‘So what? – The body is in fashion’…”
(cf. www.triumph.com..., ibid.).

 

The “Triumph” bra was presented as, above all, a sensual product for women – it was meant, not only to catch the eye of the other (that of the male or, given the competition over breast shape and size, that of the female as well), but to also boost the self-confidence of a female whether in the neighbourhood or in the workplace. In 1960’s Greece, with the dominant cultural trend opting for the large-breasted female, “Triumph” would offer and promote the so-called “underwire” bra, specifically designed to provide “additional lift”, so to speak. The “underwire push-up bra” was specifically designed so as to augment breast-size and increase cleavage – its 1950’s precursor being the so-called “bullet bra”. We know that even since the 1950’s, many young Greek females would choose to wear bras that gave their breasts a “pointy”, conical-shaped appearance (the Lana Turner and later Sophia Loren look), but the stiffness of this brassiere would give way to the softer materials used by companies such as “Triumph” in the 1960’s (“Triumph” bras, by the way, could also be un-wired).

We may now examine the discourse of the 1967 advertisement in some greater detail, and draw certain conclusions pertaining to the terrains of work and “eros”. One may make the following observations:

 

  1. The discourse, firstly, urges the female to endow herself with grace and elegance («Χαρήστε του χάρι, κομψότητα»). Judging by the picture that accompanies the discourse – a beautiful young lady exhibiting her bosom as it is cupped by a sexy-looking “Triumph” bra – one can see that the emphasis is on femininity and sensuality. Here, grace and elegance are not neutral terms – the endowment of one’s self with such attributes is aimed at the arousal of the bodily appetite (and thus accurately expresses James Joyce’s understanding of the so-called “pornographic advertisement”). This clearly constitutes the overtly “erotic moment” of the discourse.
  2. Secondly, the discourse further urges the female to endow herself with the attributes of comfort/ease and self-certitude («άνεσι, σιγουριά»). Both such attributes would enable the female to face the world around her with a practical comfort or ease and with a practical self-assuredness (remember the “new direction” of the company’s 1960’s-1970’s discourse referred to above). These attributes would be her pragmatic mental instruments in dealing with the “economic” and the “extra-economic lifeworlds”, and these would be materialized through the manner in which she presented her bosom both to herself and to the others. This aspect of the advertisement as clearly constitutes the overtly “practical moment” of its discourse.
  3. The “erotic moment” and the “practical moment” of the discourse are brought together and united into one single continuum of “lifeworld moments” – the “DOREEN” bra is presented as having been specifically designed for all circumstances of a woman’s life: «μελετημένο για όλες τις περιστάσεις». Thus, this essentially sensual and practical product is meant for all the “moments” that a woman could possibly live in her everyday life – from work to free time, from free time to the potentially “erotic” experience. Thereby, the discourse traverses the two terrains of life that, for a Bataille, remained irreconcilable: the contradiction between the “world of profanity” (the “economic” sphere) and the “ecstasy of eros” (the “extra-economic” sphere) are discreetly brought together. This, as we have already suggested above, was a bringing together of contradictory “binaries” through an ideological “myth-making” which was the privileged terrain of advertizing discourse, but which would glue together the “Amalia-type” as a sexually-conscious individual and as a professionally-conscious “career woman”. Now, since any attempt to marry the worlds of work and of “play” is no easy matter – they stand objectively opposed to one another – the discourse retains its subtle respect for the “Amalia-type”: nowhere is work as such openly mentioned. It would only be by the 1980’s and especially 1990’s, when “careerism” would fully attain a status at least relatively autonomous of economic need (remember Margaret Jones’ advice to Miss B. Th.: “don’t spoil this beauty of service”), that advertizing discourse could openly relate the “bliss” of work + play in one package. Here, the objective friction between work and “play” would have been smoothened out (this would especially apply to people who would come to do jobs in the upper middle class bracket, and we shall examine advertizing discourse related to such cases below).
  4. The unity between work, play and the “erotic” field is further articulated by the manner in which the discourse deals with the human body – the “DOREEN” bra, it says, has been designed for all the female bodies («για όλα τα σώματα»). Naturally, one may read this as an invitation to all female bodies – tall, short, fat, thin, etc. – to actually buy the “DOREEN” bra, as it would beautify all varieties of female body. Such a reading would not be inaccurate. But the discourse also does something more: it directly relates “all the bodies” to “all the occasions” («σχεδιασμένο… για όλα τα σώματα, μελετημένο για όλες τις περιστάσεις»). Thus, when it speaks of “all the bodies” it gently implies that one may wear the bra as a “working body” (a body at work, it being one occasion), as a “social body” (a body in society, it being another occasion) or as an “erotic body” (a body in love, it being yet another occasion). Certainly, the “Amalia-type” was itself a living combinatory of all such “occasions” put together.
  5. Of course, the reference to «όλα τα σώματα» is fully open to yet another reading, and which would be an interpretation accurately reflective of the era we are examining: that all women could or should wear such a “DOREEN” bra was symptomatic of the “democratization” of all “standards of beauty” in the post-war period, and which would yield a “democratic averageness” in sensual aesthetics. This, of course, is fully reminiscent of Horkheimer’s «ηρωοποίηση των ανθρώπων του μέσου όρου», something which he chose to reject in terms of his own value-judgments – an “Amalia-type”, however, sporting a “DOREEN” bra and feeling the way she did as a consequence of it, would be valuing her own life as such, and that self-valuation is what constitutes the socio-historical fact of the period.
  6. We have said that this type of advertizing discourse unites the different “moments” constituting the multi-dimensional life of a young female, and that it thereby reflects the living combinatory that was the “Amalia-type” – as such a combinatory of cultural and economic practices, this “type” would gradually mutate into a self-conscious individual, typical of any middle class milieu. This “Triumph” advertisement is yet another example of how advertizing discourse at the time was sociologically informed – it captures the trend towards “individuation” with the key words: «Χαρίστε στον εαυτό σας…».

 

In May 1968, the same periodical referred to above, Συλλογή, published an article entitled «Ανοιξιάτικες παραλλαγές», which was meant to indirectly promote fashion houses such as Dior – it thus constituted what we have elsewhere described as indirect advertizing discourse. The purpose of this four-page text was to introduce young females to “the latest” in 1968 springtime fashion. The text is accompanied by photographs depicting young, “sexy” models exhibiting various outfits and initiates its readers – the vast majority being youth – to fashion designs that are at times just a bit too “extreme”, too “sophisticated” or too “exotic” (though one knows that much of what was being depicted would soon become the order of the day, at least with respect to the middle-middle and upper-middle classes).

Consider the following sample-captions accompanying the photographs – firstly:

 

«Απλό μονοκόμματο φόρεμα, με λευκές
γαρνιτούρες στο γιακά, στις τσέπες και
στα μανίκια. Αντιπροσωπεύει το στυλ
‘κολεζιέν’»
(cf. Συλλογή, Έτος 1, Τεύχ. 6, May 1968, p. 164).

 

The second sample-caption reads as follows:

 

«Επιμελημένη ατημελησία σε αμέρικαν-λουκ.
Ένα σύνολο για την πλάζ ή τις εκδρομές, που
επιτρέπει δυό διαφορετικές εμφανίσεις. Η
λευκή φόρμα σε στυλ βερμούδες, με την
προσθήκη μιάς τυνίκ διαφορετικού χρώματος,
μεταβάλλεται σε πρωϊνό σύνολο για την
πόλη»
(ibid.).

 

The third sample is even more “extreme” and apparently completely out of touch with the reality of an “Amalia-type”:

 

«Η εκδοχή του 1968 για το κλασικό αμπιγιέ
φόρεμα. Είναι μεταξωτό, σε τυρκουάζ, μωβ
και ροζ τόνους, με μακριά μανίκια και γιακά
που δένει γραβάτα. Οι πολύ κομψές θα το
φορέσουν με μια μεγάλη ρομαντική καπελίνα
που γεμίζει το πρόσωπο ανάγλυφες φωτοσκιάσεις»
(ibid., p. 165).

 

The fourth sample-caption, which accompanies a picture depicting a young lady sporting the “Twiggy look”, reads as follows:

 

«Ο συνδυασμός-βεντέττα του 1968: Άσπρο και
μπλε σε μια πολύ χαριτωμένη εκδοχή για
‘την-έϊτζερς’. Οι λευκές βαμβακερές κάλτσες
ως το γόνατο, ολοκληρώνουν την νεανική
εντύπωσι»
(ibid., p. 166).

 

The fifth sample explicitly points to the “eccentric” in 1968 female fashion:

 

«Και μια νότα εκκεντρικότητος που προτείνει
ο Μάρκ Μποάν του Ντιόρ: Σορτς για το βράδυ
από λαμέ ματλασέ υφάσματα, κεντημένα με
στρας, και ανάλαφρες ρομαντικές μπλούζες
από μουσελίνα. Φοριούνται με μακριά καλσόν
και ασορτί χρυσά ή ασημένια παπούτσια»
(ibid.).

 

The “geometric motif” in fashion design is presented in the sixth sample:

 

«Η γοητεία του λευκού, συγκεντρωμένη σ’ ένα
αμπιγιέ παλτό του Βενέ. Είναι από δαντέλλα, που
τόσο ευνοείται από την εφετινή μόδα, με μεγάλα
γεωμετρικά μοτίβα»
(ibid.).

 

And, finally, the “aristocratic look” is presented:

 

«Μια ‘Μπόννι’, με αριστοκρατική εμφάνισι για
το βράδυ. Μακρύ παντελόνι και εξ ίσου μακρύ
παλτό, που φθάνει ως τον αστράγαλο. Μπλούζα
ολοκέντητη από μαύρες παγιέττες και ασορτί
μπονέ»
(ibid., p. 167).

 

It would be rather unrealistic to assume that any of these outfits (bar, perhaps, the one presented in the first sample) would be worn by the “Amalia-type” in 1968 at Aliartos. If that be the case, we would have here a discourse that does not “speak” to the “Amalia-type” at all – it seems to hover over and above an Amalia Eleftheriadou in a provocatively imperious manner that doubts rather than reinforces her “modernity”. Whatever element of the “romantic”, as expressed in female outfit, apparently excludes her. Further, all sample-captions are worded in a manner that completely ignores the world of work – it seems as if all that a young lady did in 1968 was to attire herself in her “exotic” clothes (or, more appropriately, “doll” herself up) and walk around the streets enchanting whoever. Before we examine what actually happens in the pages of a popular periodical such as Συλλογή, we need to dwell on a discourse that truly seems to ignore all “adjustive” semantics – we shall need to isolate the central motifs of the fashions that are being presented.

As already mentioned, the first sample-caption, as also the photograph that accompanies it, would be well within the experiential limits of an Amalia Eleftheriadou – the “simplicity” of the outfit («Απλό μονοκόμματο φόρεμα») would mean that it could even be worn at the A&M Headquarters on a fine spring day. But the discourse of the caption itself makes no mention, at least in some indirect manner, of the reality of work as an everyday practice of young females at the time.

The second sample is definitely beyond what an Amalia Eleftheriadou would dare – or even care – to wear, either at work or anywhere else. An American-style “disheveled” look, which is here being promoted, would have been far too “extreme” for any Aliartian female of the 1960’s. More importantly, while the discourse promotes a multi-purpose outfit, all such “purposes” are limited to activities well outside the workplace: young females are presented as spending their lives either at the beach or picnicking. The reference to a «πρωϊνό σύνολο για την πόλη» further reinforces the idea that a young female would never need to clock-in at work (Marxists here would justifiably point to the “ideological content” of the particular discourse – Bataille’s “profane” and “redundant” world of the “economy” is here simply swept under the carpet).

While the third caption speaks of the “classic” style in female outfit, the accompanying photograph depicts a young lady suffused with a “glamour” and “elegance” that could only but have alienated the “Amalia-type”. Of course, the “classic” style per se was in many ways expressive of the “Amalia-type” in the 1960’s: the simple cut in clothes combining “traditionality” with “modernity”, the usually neutral colours, the dress falling to the knee, and so on, would be the type of clothes that the “Amalia-type” would have opted for either at the workplace or when going out. But economic constraints would have meant that females such as Amalia Eleftheriadou would have to gradually come to learn the techniques of “how to only look expensive” – the type of “glamour” and “elegance” depicted in this third sample could only have been mimicked. One may assume that some degree of alienation would set in when the “Amalia-type” would come to discover that she could only achieve a somewhat weak approximation of the original sophistication depicted in a discourse such as sample three. Given such possible alienation, the sample’s references to the «πολύ κομψές» and the “romantic” element (with special reference to the «καπελίνα») would have excluded the “Amalia-type”. On the other hand, it should be mentioned that such circumstances would change fairly radically by the 1970’s and especially the 1980’s and thereafter – at least working females would gradually come to be able to invest a sizeable proportion of their income in clothes and accessories that allowed them to attain an “elegant sexuality”. Interestingly, the fashion industry was itself very much aware of the potentialities of such a process in the world of female aesthetics – when, it is said, Christian Dior had been asked to reveal what the “key” to good dressing was, he had responded as follows: “There is no key. If there were it would be too easy, rich women could buy the key and all their fashion worries would be over! But simplicity, grooming and good taste – the three fundamentals of fashion – cannot be bought. But they can be learnt, by rich and poor alike” (cf. www.elegantwoman.org/timeless.html). Dior’s observation suggests that female aesthetics can cut right across class lines and are not necessarily reflective of objective class position or economic capacity. An “Amalia-type” that could master the techniques of “looking expensive” could also discover the “key” to looking “elegant” or “sexy”. In this 1968 discourse, however, such “key” was being obfuscated by the sheer opulence that is being suggested. Again, the reality of work – or of whatever “practical domain” in a woman’s “lifeworld” – is completely missing. In response to such other-worldly-extravagance as expressed in this sample, young, so-called “Left-wing” writers would write “protest literature” in the 1970’s that was deeply cynical of whatever opulence in female fashion:

 

«Μα κυττάξτε την, αυτήν την καπελλίνα
την φοράει μαζί με τα μπιζού των 5.000.000,
κυττάξτε την, πληθωρική σαν την ίδια την
αστική τάξη, χαρίζει τα ύφη της πέρα δώθε»
(cf. Stavros Antoniou, «Μοντιλιάνι»,
in G.A. Panagiotou (ed.), Γενιά του ‘70,
Σίσυφος, 1979, p. 38).

 

The fourth caption presents us with a different type of problem, though not unrelated to what characterizes the whole of this discourse presented in the Συλλογή periodical. Its reference to the “teenage look” and the «νεανική εντύπωσι» were definitely expressive of the age – the “Twiggy look” mentioned above was itself one important dimension of the cultural practices at the time, and the accompanying photograph in Συλλογή depicts a rather “sexy-looking” teenager reminiscent of “Twiggy” (she dares stick her tongue out, licking her upper lip). The caption and photograph, therefore, present us with a cultural phenomenon that placed an emphasis on teenagehood and the sexually provocative attributes of the young female. Such trend would have caught on amongst certain segments of female school goers in late 1960’s Greece, and there is no reason why we should rule out the possibility that Amalia Eleftheriadou as a high school pupil could have in some way been influenced by such trend. In fact, Greek films of the 1960’s would often depict the “school-girl” image in its prepubescent sexuality (as in «Το Ξύλο Βγήκε Απ’ Τον Παράδεισο», filmed in 1959, and thus prefiguring the image of a “Twiggy”). But, then, if that be the case, why speak of a problematic discourse? The point here is that the discourse of the fourth caption isolates the age factor as the single most prevalent reality of young females in Greece at the time – but we well know that, while dominant, the age factor (and the concomitant question of teenage sexuality) was not the only determining factor for the reality of a working “Amalia-type”. For the real Amalia Eleftheriadou of the 1960’s, it would have been extremely difficult (not to say painful) to join the dots between a “sexy” little «βεντέττα» as depicted in the photograph and her everyday life as a “Clerk”. At the same time, this would not at all mean that the “Amalia-type” would have remained indifferent to the contours of her own figure – even since the very early 1960’s, young women would be fully conscious of their body-shape. Consider the following extract from a book written in 1961:

 

«Αν τυχόν… συναντήση κανένα θηλυκό, που
ξέρει ότι θέλει ν’ αδυνατίση, του λέει: “Πώς
τα καταφέρατε και παχύνατε Δεσποινίς; Εγίνατε
σα φούσκα. Να μην τρώτε πολύ. Τι κρίμα,
εχάσατε τελείως την ωραία σιλουέττα σας. Να
κάνετε αυστηρή δίαιτα.” Και την χαιρετάει
γελαστός, και φεύγει ευχαριστημένος, γιατί
έβαλε ο αθεόφοβος, άλλους καϋμούς, βάσανα
και “ντέρτια” στο κοκκορόμυαλο Δεσποινίδιον»
(cf. Vasilis Attikos, Ψώνια και τύποι της σημερινής
Αθήνας, 1961, p. 65).

 

The fifth sample may be said to be guilty of “provocative-interventionism”: in the context of a sexual revolution that was still in the process of discovering a certain delicate balance between “conservative traditionalism” and “modernity” in female aesthetics, whatever emphasis on some «νότα εκκεντρικότητος» would not have been easily digested by the “Amalia-type”. This would have been especially so when the “eccentric” would be combined with an untimely re-evaluation of “ethical” values that went beyond the cultural capacities of the 1960’s “Amalia-type” (the latter would only “mother” what was to fix and crystallize as a new orrery of moral values in the period of the 1970’s and thereafter). The sample-caption – promoting Dior products – refers to «Σορτς για το βράδυ» and the accompanying photograph depicts two young models sporting what almost amounts to a pair of “hot pants”. The latter would definitely be adopted by a section of the female population, but only in the 1970’s. In the period of the Military Dictatorship, the Minister of the Interior, Stylianos Pattakos, had tried to ban the mini skirt, but had very soon realized that whatever such attempts would be in vain. By the 1970’s, segments of the young female population would be sporting either the mini skirt or a pair of “hot pants”, or would alternate between the one or the other. Symptomatically, it would be in the decade of the 1970’s that a theatrical show would be staged entitled «Καυτά Σορτσάκια» (1971) at the Alsos Pagkratiou. Apparently, the 1968 Dior discourse still remained ahead of its time with respect to “sexual” provocation via the “hot look” (the particular design of the outfits, however, would ultimately wither and die, as we shall see in discussing the sixth sample) . As such, its reference to the romantic element («ρομαντικές μπλούζες») would have somewhat escaped the “worldview” of the “Amalia-type”. As in all of the samples discussed thus far, the terrain of work is completely by-passed.

The motif of the sixth sample must be of special interest to the social historian: it represents an excellent case of that type of fashion design of the 1960’s that would be rather assiduously promoted by certain fashion houses of the day, but would finally have to be withdrawn because female youth in Europe (let alone the “Amalia-type” in Greece) so decided. In many ways similar to the type of design also presented in the fifth sample (the element of “eccentricity”), this sixth sample presents the reader with outfits based on the “geometric motif” («γεωμετρικά μοτίβα»). The photograph accompanying the sixth caption presents us with a lady wearing a coat distinctly expressive of such motif. One sees bold, sharp lines that do not at all “cling” to the wearer – the coat fails to follow the body-shape of the woman who wears it (our observations here are based on the photograph itself but also, inter alia, on: vintagefashionsguild.org/fashion-history/trends-of-the-mid-1960’s – interestingly, the latter site presents us with a picture which is a near-facsimile of the one in the fifth sample of Συλλογή). The point here is that the aim of “geometric fashions” was, for once, to draw attention away from the wearer and focus onto the fashion as such – the bold, sharp geometrical lines would create entirely their own shape and look. As the site (ibid.) puts it: “When you wear a geometric dress you almost become the dress, adopting its shape, its boldness”. What we had here, therefore, was fashion for the sake of fashion – something which females of the 1960’s, and especially so in the case of the “Amalia-type”, would come to completely ignore (we shall come back to the question of fashion for its own sake). As the “geometric look” progressed through the decade, it would never manage to improve or even match the initial success of the look (for a small segment of the young female population in Europe) when it was launched in the mid 1960’s. By 1969, the bold, strong geometric shapes had become all too extreme and had thereby, as the site puts it, “wiped out the femininity of the wearer” (my emph.). By hiding the body-shape of a woman, and by more or less obliterating her femininity or “sexuality”, this type of fashion was basically moving against the current of the sexual revolution. An “Amalia-type” cared for fashion as such – but cared much more for her own body, and would never sacrifice the latter for the former. This, it seems, would also apply to most young females in the Western world, for it was these females that were the vanguard subjects of the sexual revolution (it would be this popular, grassroots revolution that would mostly determine the fashion revolution, and not vice versa). But this type of “geometric” fashion – and the discourse that would accompany it – not only ignored the body, it also ignored the “working body” (as is obvious in the Συλλογή caption). While the caption’s reference to “appeal” («γοητεία») would be lost, given the dysfunctionality of the design, the reality of work would be concealed by a simple omission of such reality.

The final sample-caption – referring to «Μια ‘Μπόννι’ με αριστοκρατική εμφάνισι» – obviously expresses the fashion style which emerged following the 1967 motion picture, “Bonnie and Clyde”, starring Faye Dunaway. The latter’s style of dress – and the ensuing fashion trend – evoked a sense of 1930’s “elegance” and “glamour” that was in some way reminiscent of the “elegance” and “glamour” of the “classic” style (cf. the third sample). The “Bonnie look”, and as is evident in the photograph of Συλλογή, went against the fashionable mini skirt of the 1960’s – it placed emphasis on the so-called “aristocratic look” (as the caption itself also states). It would not be unrealistic to assume that, by 1968, the “Amalia-type” could adopt elements of this trend, but only in the sense that an Amalia Eleftheriadou had been gradually developing techniques whereby she could make herself “look expensive”. The implication is that the authentic “Bonnie look” could only have been adopted by the middle-middle and upper-middle classes at the time (though it goes without saying that the “Amalia-type” would have “eyed” females belonging to such strata and sporting such a “look”). Finally, one may here make an observation regarding the question of the relationship between the “economic” and the “extra-economic” fields in the discourse of this seventh sample-discourse: while the designer of the “Bonnie look”, Theadora Van Runkle, had intended such style for both work and “play”, the caption makes no attempt to conjoin these two fields of life. The intentions of the designer were to create clothes that “people could wear to work and wear in their real lives” (cf. classiq.me/style-faye-dunaway-in-bonnie-and-clyde). The caption, in contrast, simply speaks of an «εμφάνισι για το βράδυ» (and is thereby consistent with the fifth sample-caption, which also refers to «Σορτς για το βράδυ»).

On considering these sample-captions, one would immediately conclude that all of their discourse clearly does not fall within the ambit of the “adjustive” type of discourse – even more importantly for our purposes here, all such discourse obviously obliterates whatever continuum between work and “eros”. The latter element – whether presented in the form of a seductive “Twiggy” or in the form of a softly “romantic” young lady wearing a “classic” style of outfit – is isolated as the one and only “moment” in the life of a 1960’s young female. But while all this is true, we should also examine the specific manner in which such “non-adjustive” discourse (coming from global fashion houses such as Dior) is presented to the Greek reader of the 1960’s via the pages of a periodical such as Συλλογή. Our examination of such presentation will reveal that the periodical in question turns all the tables upside down.

The seven captions/photographs discussed above are accompanied by a Συλλογή editorial which attempts to “correct” the global discourse of all such captions. What it does is to essentially re-adjust such global discourse to the Greek reality. At the same time, it very subtly attempts to re-join the field of “beauty” (or of “eros”, or of “their real lives”, as Theadora Van Runkle had put it) with that of the field of the “practical” (or of “everydayness”). Here, “beauty” becomes part of a continuum which also includes “everydayness”. Alternatively, “personal taste” is itself part of a continuum which also includes “everyday practical need”. Such “re-adjustment” can only but reject all so-called “high fashion”. Further, it can only but reject the idea of “fashion for the sake of fashion”. This very important little text reads as follows:

 

«ΔΕΝ ΕΙΝΑΙ ίσως η “υψηλή μόδα” των μεγάλων
μαιτρ, με τις “παρνασιακές” αντιλήψεις της
“μόδας για τη μόδα” ή τις αξιώσεις μιας μοναδικής
κι’ ανεπανάληπτης δημιουργίας, εκείνη που
ενδιαφέρει τις πολλές γυναίκες. Αλλά η μόδα η
καθημερινή, η ευκολοφόρετη κι’ απλή. Με λίγα
λόγια, η μόδα στην πιο εκλαϊκευμένη της έκφραση,
εκείνη που θα κυκλοφορήση στους δρόμους,
εκείνη που θα συγκεντρώση αμέτρητα βλέμματα
θαυμασμού στο πέρασμά της, ανάλαφρη, γοητευτική,
προσωπική… Είναι η μόδα που θα προσαρμόσετε
σεις στον τύπο σας, με μιάν απόλυτη ελευθερία
εκλογής στα μοντέλα, στα αξεσουάρ, στα χρώματα»
(cf. Συλλογή, ibid., p. 164, my emph.).

 

This is a text that intricately and very discretely attempts to combine “moments in the life of a 1960’s young female in a manner which would fully express the “psyche” of the “New Type” – the combinatory which is constructed is made up of the following component parts:

 

  1. Everydayness/practicality/simplicity («η μόδα η καθημερινή, η ευκολοφόρετη κι’ η απλή») +
  2. Popularized or democratized fashion («στην πιο εκλαϊκευμένη της έκφραση») +
  3. Sensual attraction implicitly suggesting “beauty” («που θα συγκεντρώση αμέτρητα βλέμματα θαυμασμού») +
  4. A personalized aesthetic taste («γοητευτική, προσωπική») +
  5. Adjustive free choice («που θα προσαρμόσετε σεις στον τύπο σας, με μιαν απόλυτη ελευθερία εκλογής»).

 

Elsewhere in this same issue of Συλλογή, the editors provide their young readers with pieces of advice that rather coherently complement their general understanding of fashion practices as presented above. They emphasize the importance of the development of personal techniques whereby, as individuals, youngsters should be able to cultivate and celebrate the “small joys” of life – viz.:

 

«… τις μικρές ευτυχίες της καθημερινότητος.
Αυτές που δίνουν ένα νόημα στην ζωή, χωρίς
ποτέ να φθάνουν στ’ άκρα. Η ζωή δεν είναι
ποτέ ούτε ανυπόφορα “μαύρη” ούτε συνεχώς
ρόδινη…»
(cf. Συλλογή, ibid., p. 168, my emph.).

 

This emphasis on the so-called “small joys” of “everydayness” – and which is also an admonition to steer clear of “extremities” – would have more or less expressed the aggregate of individuals composing the “Amalia-type” of the 1960’s: her essentially “transitional” nature would have urged her to both experiment with the “new” and to “protect” herself from the “extremities” of such “new” (both as regards fashion trends and “ethical” behaviour generally). The working “Amalia-type” would see and experience her life as a “blessing + curse in-one” (and which is precisely what this Συλλογή text wishes to imply). One “blessing” would be the fact that she had a job and therefore brought in some income to support herself and her family. Yet another much more important “blessing” would be her “free time” and the potentialities of “gamesplaying ” (in the sense used by Eric Berne, in his Games people play, Grove Press, 1964). Such “gamesplaying”, of course, could become an overdetermining factor in her life when it entered the “erotic” field. Here, both work and “play” could constitute a “blessing”. On the other hand, were the “erotic” to become obsessively overdetermining in a manner which exacerbated the so-called “miserable passions”, “gamesplaying” could possibly have mutated into a “curse”. At the same time, the very fact of having to work could be a “curse” in itself (and especially so when as a “Clerk” one had to do tasks as one’s boss would be breathing down one’s neck). In this case, both work and “play” would be experienced as a “curse”.

Of course, the idea that the “Amalia-type’s” life was a “blessing + curse in-one” could all too simply be reduced to the equation: work = survival = “curse”, while “play” = life per se = “blessing”. Alternatively, one could argue that since work was an alienating “curse”, all of a working person’s life would itself be a “curse”. But we know that such latter reductionism is completely unrealistic, simply reproducing a dogmatic Marxism that assumes work to be the single most important experience in a person’s life (the bedroom could provide an even more intense cluster of experiences, but which lies well beyond the reach of most historiography). The strength of the Συλλογή text is that it refuses to identify which “moments” in a person’s life are a “curse” and which a “blessing” – rather, it sees a continuum between such “moments”. Both the “Amalia-type” as a young person and the advertizing discourse which expressed her would often assert just such (albeit it contradictory and tension-filled) continuity. As already mentioned, this “blessing” + “curse” continuum – which was a continuum united by the “small moments” of “everydayness” – must be understood as a “myth-making” ideological discourse trying to present a specific interpretation of a “lifeworld”. As such, it may be directly contrasted to Bataille’s approach which, as we have seen, had posited the “erotic” sphere as a form of life irreconcilably opposed to the “economic”. While Bataille’s thought was essentially a theoretical utopianism, the Συλλογή text was basically describing the somewhat uneasy “psyche” of the “Amalia-type”.

The 1970’s would produce advertizing discourse that would further assert this continuum between the “economic” and the “extra-economic”. Some advertisements would stick to the subtleties of the 1960’s and thus avoid referring to the sphere of work per se. For instance, in 1979, the weekly periodical, Επίκαιρα, would present its readers with a photograph of a smartly dressed lady and which would be accompanied with the following caption:

 

«ΤΑ ΜΑΚΩ είναι ρούχα που ιδιαίτερα
θα φορεθούν το καλοκαίρι ’79.
Σε λευκό, με ζώνη κόκκινη και πουά λευκά,
το μοντέλο της Anna Club είναι πρακτικό
και όμορφο…»
(cf. Επίκαιρα, Αρ. Τεύχ. 565, 31.5.1979,
p. 111, my emph.).

 

But such subtle conjoining of the “practical” with the “beautiful” would gradually give way to an open assertion that a woman’s life could only but be a holistic experience that combined work per se with “erotic play”. Such new and open discourse would take a number of things for granted:

 

  1. The question of “modernity”: there was no longer any need to place much emphasis on the “modern woman”, or to wish to differentiate her from the rest;
  2. The question of sensuality or “sexuality”: there was no longer any need to present the new “ethics” pertaining to the female body in whatever sublimated or genteel form – for instance, the periodical Επίκαιρα could, in 1979, speak of «εξαίσια γυναικεία κορμιά με μονοκίνι… γυναίκες που διάλεξαν την απόλυτη ελευθερία στο ντύσιμο…» (ibid., pp. 108-109). This issue of the periodical would publish full-colour photographs of bare-breasted women stretched out on the beach;
  3. The question pertaining to the status of work: as discussed in examining the case of Miss B. Th. above, work would no longer be a mere means to economic survival – it would attain a value in-itself as a self-fulfilling “career”.

 

The fact that all three such variables could finally be taken for granted would have a direct impact on advertizing discourse – the latter could now freely and openly present work and “play” as constituting the “game of life” itself (interestingly, Berne’s 1964 study of human relations, op. cit., would see both work and “play” as part and parcel of the “games” people played).

But having said all that with respect to post 1960’s advertizing discourse, we need to add an extremely important caveat. At least as regards the 1970’s, such open references to work + “play” would really only be addressed to the middle-middle and upper-middle classes. Perhaps this observation may be put otherwise as follows: the work + “play” (or “eros”) paradigm becomes more emphatic in advertizing discourse as one goes up the ladder of social classes addressed to in the period of the 1970’s. Such discourse was initially addressed to those segments of Greek civil society that had “jumped” (or were in the process of “jumping”) objective class position – and we here need to keep in mind the fluidity of Greek social stratification and the mobility that could allow one to move to the upper strata of the middle classes, and which would give birth to a variety of cases belonging to the “professional classes” (both in the private but especially so in the public sector). By the 1980’s, of course, the status of work as “careerism” would apply to increasingly larger segments of the female population, and what was an embryonic discourse in the 1960’s and an exclusivist discourse in the 1970’s would be consummated as a dominant popular discourse fully expressive of the condition or potentialities of Greek working women thereafter.

Advertizing discourse addressed to the new “professional classes” in the 1970’s would take a variety of forms – one excellent example is advertizing that promoted the Diners Club of Greece. Such advertizing discourse would clearly bring together the personal life and the professional life of an individual: this coming together would be materialized via the “DINERS CLUB INTERNATIONAL – Greece Credit Bank”. The May 1979 issue of Επίκαιρα referred to above would carry a full-colour two-page advertisement promoting the Diners Club credit card amongst the “professional” classes – parts of its discourse read as follows:

 

«Χαρείτε
το γοητευτικό τρόπο ζωής
των μελών του
DinersClub

Με την Κάρτα Diners Club ανήκετε σε μια
διεθνή κοινωνία που τα μέλη της αναγνωρίζονται
σε 150 χώρες και έχουν το προνόμιο να κάνουν
αγορές, να ταξιδεύουν, να διασκεδάζουν, να
περιποιούνται τους φίλους τους, να χαίρονται
και να απολαμβάνουν τη ζωή χρησιμοποιώντας
αντί χρήμα την Κάρτα Diners Club… Περισσότερες
από 400.000 επιχειρήσεις στην Ελλάδα και σε όλο
τον κόσμο, θεωρούν τα μέλη Diners Club εκλεκτούς
πελάτες τους!

Με την Κάρτα Diners Club έχετε το γοητευτικό
τρόπο ζωής κυριολεκτικά στα χέρια σας! Να πώς:

Αγοράζετε από τα καλύτερα καταστήματα

Μεγάλα καταστήματα, καταστήματα ανδρικών
και γυναικείων ειδών, μπουτίκ, κοσμηματοπωλεία…
καταστήματα… για γούνες, ανθοπωλεία,
κομμωτήρια… σας προσφέρουν τα είδη και τις
υπηρεσίες τους χωρίς χρήμα και στις ίδιες τιμές –
μόνο με την Κάρτα σας Diners Club.

Ταξιδεύετε με το DinersWorldTravel

To Diners World Travel είναι το ταξιδιωτικό γραφείο
που εξυπηρετεί αποκλειστικά τα μέλη του Diners Club.
Οργανώνει για σας εκδρομές και κρουαζιέρες,
φροντίζει για το συνάλλαγμά σας, κλείνει δωμάτια σε
ξενοδοχεία και παρέχει κάθε ταξιδιωτική εξυπηρέτηση
σε σας και σε όσα άτομα θέλετε, χρεώνοντας την Κάρτα
σας…

Απολαμβάνετε τα καλύτερα ξενοδοχεία, εστιατόρια
και κέντρα διασκεδάσεως

Ζείτε στο περιβάλλον των πιο σύγχρονων ξενοδοχείων,
στην Ελλάδα και στο εξωτερικό, και στην ατμόσφαιρα των
πιο ονομαστών κέντρων διασκεδάσεως, των πιο πολυτελών
εστιατορίων, των πιο γραφικών ταβερνών. Περιποιείστε
τους καλεσμένους σας και τακτοποιείτε το λογαριασμό με
τον πιο διακριτικό τρόπο: με την Κάρτα σας Diners Club…

Ξεχωρίζετε τα επαγγελματικά σας έξοδα

Εκτός από την προσωπική σας Κάρτα Diners Club που
χρησιμοποιείτε στην Ελλάδα και στο εξωτερικό, το Diners
Club σας δίνει τη δυνατότητα να αποκτήσετε και μια άλλη
Κάρτα, την επαγγελματική. Την χρησιμοποιείτε στην Ελλάδα
όταν τα έξοδά σας αφορούν την επιχείρησή σας. Έτσι – και
για πρώτη φορά στην Ελλάδα – ένα σύστημα πιστωτικών
καρτών ξεχωρίζει τα προσωπικά από τα επαγγελματικά
έξοδα και ο σχετικός λογαριασμός του Diners Club
ισοδυναμεί επίσημα με τιμολόγιο…

Ελάτε στο γοητευτικό τρόπο ζωής

Ο σημερινός τρόπος ζωής έχει αλλάξει. Είναι πιο γρήγορος,
πιο δυναμικός και πιο πρακτικός. Η Κάρτα Diners Club
κάνει για σας αυτόν τον τρόπο ζωής γοητευτικό. Γίνετε
κι εσείς μέλος του Diners Club. Χαρείτε το γοητευτικό
τρόπο ζωής…»
(cf. Επίκαιρα, ibid., pp. 4-5).

 

Before we examine the discourse of this advertisement, it is important to say a few words about Diners Club as a services company and very briefly point to certain more general or possibly theoretical implications related to the type of services it has offered. This is what the company, which was founded in 1950, has to say of itself:

 

“Diners Club International Ltd. Is a direct
banking and payment services company
owned by Discover Financial Services
(NYSE: DFS), one of the most recognized
brands in US financial services… Diners Club
membership is for the select global citizen
who wants to experience the best the world
has to offer”
(cf. https://www.dinersclub.com/about-us/overview,
my emph.).

 

The same source continues, this time addressing itself to its clients:

 

“Experience distinction in dining and travel.
Diners Club supports global dining and
entertainment partnerships, so that all its
Clubmembers have access to unique benefits
and Privileges around the world”
(ibid., my emph.).

 

The first and quite obvious point one should note here is that the very purpose of this services company is to enable its clients (all of these being “professionals” in the world of business) to combine work with entertainment (“dining and entertainment partnerships”). As importantly, services companies such as Diners Club may be related to the context of so-called “globalization” (“global citizens”). The role of the credit card, and especially given the function of “Diners World Travel” (which automatically renders the credit card a global means of exchange) definitely raises questions as to the role of companies such as Diners Club in the processes of “globalization” in the 1970’s and thereafter. Much has been written on this, and specifically with respect to “processes of consumption” and how these may relate to so-called “globalization theory” (perhaps the best known work in this field is that of George Ritzer, Explorations in the sociology of consumption, SAGE, 2001). Ritzer examines the function of credit cards in consumer behaviour and relates such behaviour to globalization (he has also spoken of the “McDonaldization” of societies).

Diners Club would be launched in Greece in 1959. We know that its strategy of combining work with entertainment would only be targeting the up-and-coming “professional” classes, and these would only make their presence felt as a social stratum by the 1970’s. This combination of work + “play”, of course, would also have to be related to “cultural globalization”. Throughout this project, we have tried to deal with the impact of whatever “global” by examining advertizing discourse in its various stages of “adjustment” to local conditions. The extent to which a services company such as Diners Club would actually “standardize” socio-cultural behaviour amongst the middle-middle and upper-middle classes remains an open and rather complex question – and it is complex because one cannot seriously address it unless one also takes into consideration the relatively dependent development of a social formation such as Greece. We shall come back to this further below, and with special reference to the case of Amalia Eleftheriadou’s employer, Marakis.

We may now examine the content of the discourse of the 1979 Επίκαιρα advertisement. The basic points to make, albeit all of them quite self-evident, are the following:

 

  1. The discourse wishes to introduce the Greek “professional” to the international community of his/her corresponding counterparts, and thus verifies Ritzer’s attempt (op. cit.) to relate the operation of a services company such as Diners Club to the processes of “globalization” (note, for instance, phrases such as «ανήκετε σε μια διεθνή κοινωνία», or the reference to “Diners World Travel”, as also the idea that the credit card is meant for various services «στην Ελλάδα και στο εξωτερικό»).
  2. The discourse is addressed exclusively to those select few who are aware of their social exclusivity and wish to confirm it through their style of life. We have seen how the global discourse of Diners Club International Ltd. had emphatically spoken of “unique benefits and Privileges” (and note the capital “P”). Similarly, the Diners Club discourse aimed at Greek “professionals” itself speaks of «προνόμιο» and «εκλεκτούς πελάτες».
  3. That which is being promulgated is a new mode of life – viz. «το γοητευτικό τρόπο ζωής». We may mention here that, with respect to what the discourse refers to as «γοητευτικό» (in the sense of charming, delighting, or enchanting), Ritzer has himself spoken of “enchantment” – via “spectacle” – as a means of luring consumers to a product or service (cf. his Enchanting a disenchanted world – continuity and change in the cathedrals of consumption, SAGE, 2010).
  4. This new mode of life revolves around a variety of new, very closely interrelated practices, be these related to consumption (including the consumption of beauty products for females) and/or travel. But all such practices are circumscribed by socializing – the Επίκαιρα advertisement makes frequent references to entertaining «φίλους» and «καλεσμένους» (clearly echoing the global discourse of Diners Club International Ltd., which speaks of “entertainment partnerships”).
  5. The implications are lucid: a crystal-clear continuum has been established between personal pleasure and the tasks of business.
  6. It is true that the Επίκαιρα discourse draws a distinction between business expenses and personal expenses, as each of these are catered for by separate credit cards. But this constitutes a purely technical matter – in fact, all expenses are seen as dimensions of one’s personal pleasure («χαρείτε», «απολαμβάνετε»). Put otherwise, the equilibrium of work + “play”, wherein both practices take place at equal rates, is a condition covered by one, single system – viz. «ένα σύστημα πιστωτικών καρτών».

 

The Επίκαιρα advertisement is accompanied by a number of full-colour photographs that reinforce the written discourse in their own way. They depict, inter alia, beauty products for females as also well-dressed male and female “professionals” busy socializing. One photograph shows a sexy young lady embracing a smartly-dressed executive; yet another shows a couple possibly exchanging gifts; yet a third shows a young lady hugging a well-dressed male at a hotel reception area as they are preparing to go up to their room. The hint is apparent: “professionals” know how to combine work with sex. At least as regards certain sections of 1970’s Greek youth who were either students or university graduates, the sex act between friends and acquaintances was often treated as a matter of mere routine – consider how a writer of the “1970’s Generation” writes about sex in his days (and which is an attitude fully verified by Velica Vozini, op. cit.):

 

«Εκείνος προσφέρει γενναιόδωρα, στέγη
σε όλους και το κρεβάτι του σε όλους, δεν
έχει αντίρρηση για καμιά και για κανέναν,
το γαμίσι έμεινε ο μόνος τρόπος κοσμικής
συναναστροφής στις μέρες μας – “ας
αρχίσουμε έτσι, για φιλίες και έρωτες βλέπουμε
ύστερα”… [M]ια τις προάλλες στεκόταν με τις
βαλίτσες της μες στη μέση, εκείνος βαρέθηκε,
ξάπλωσε, ύστερα άνοιξε την κουβέρτα –
ούτε που του άρεσε, μα για να δείξει κοινωνικός:
“έλα”, της είπε…»
(cf. Katerina Plassara, «Αίτηση για την είσοδο στην Ε.Ο.Κ.»,
in Γενιά του ‘70, op. cit, p. 187).

The “Amalia-type” of the 1960’s had no inkling as to what was a credit card. She had, most probably, seen advertisements promoting Diners Club (or American Express), but these would really have made little sense to her. Her descendants would definitely catch up with the practices of using a credit card by the 1980’s. Yet still, the Diners Club discourse of the late 1970’s – whereby work and “play” would be presented as a natural duality of “modern” life – would be prefigured in advertizing discourse of the 1960’s that spoke of the “aesthetic” and the “practical” as co-existing “lifeworlds”.

Specifically as regards all the practices involved in using a Diners Club, one should here contrast the case of the “Amalia-type” to that of her employer, Marakis. File No. 71 of the Marakis Archives provides us with two pieces of evidence which verify that the Marakis family – or some member/s of that family – had joined Diners Club.

First, the File contains two Diners Club envelopes addressed to: a) «Μ.Α., ΧΑΛΚΟΚΟΝΔΥΛΗ 19, ΑΘΗΝΑΙ…»; and b) «Μ.Ι., ΧΑΛΚΟΚΟΝΔΥΛΗ 19, ΑΘΗΝΑΙ…». Both are dated 28.11.1975. Μ.Α. was one of Marakis’ three daughters, who was 27 years old in 1975. The street address on the envelopes is that of the Athens Headquarters of the A&M Mill.

A second item contained in the File is an invoice from the “DINERS CLUB OF GREECE S.A.”, dated 30.06.1979, and concerns another of Marakis’ daughter, M. (the year/month happens to be the exact same as when Επίκαιρα published its Diners Club advertisement). If only for the sake of interest, we shall quote part of this document as it gives us a sample picture of the amount of drachmas a Marakis daughter could spend via her Diners Club card (and one may contrast this to the remuneration of various categories of A&M employees at the time – cf. our analysis of A&M wage scales in the 1960’s-early 1980’s period). The invoice reads as follows (we should keep in mind that the inflation rate had reached 19% at the time):

 

“DINERS CLUB OF GREECE S.A.
30.06.79…
Μ.Μ.
ΗΑΛΚΟΚΟΝΔΥΛΗ 19
ΑΘΗΝΑΙ…

Dear Member,
Indicated below is computation of your account.
Balance due is payable within seven (7) days from
receipt of this statement.

MONTHLY STATEMENT

CODE 52 [PAST DUE BALANCE] – DEBIT: 6.124, 00
CODE 78 [LATE FEE] – DEBIT: 56, 00
CODE 01 [BILLING] – DEBIT: 1.700, 40
CODE 01 [BILLING] – DEBIT: 1.626, 00
CODE 01 [BILLING] – DEBIT: 1.638, 00

BALANCE DUE: 11.144, 40
(cf. Marakis Archives, File No. 17).

 

We have said that the descendants of the “Amalia-type” would, by the 1980’s, themselves have been initiated to the use of a credit card (naturally, this could also have included a now matured Amalia Eleftheriadou herself, who would be in her ‘30’s). We may note that a “Cashier-Clerk” working for the A&M Company in late 1983 would be earning a daily wage amounting to 920 drachmas, and which would mean a monthly income of 23.000 drachmas (cf. the A&M «Μισθολόγιο» for 1983 – the inflation rate stood at 20.9% at the time). To the extent that such a “Cashier-Clerk” could afford to be a Diners Club member by the 1980’s, that category of 1979 Επίκαιρα discourse promoting Diners Club – which would be updated and reproduced to address itself to larger masses of people – would now also have attracted the attention of such “Cashier-Clerk”. The original “exclusivity” would gradually give way to a dominant popular discourse. By now, it would be no provocation to openly and lucidly relate work with entertainment and the sexual “games” that went with the latter.

It has been said that Diners Club, as a “professional” practice, both symbolized and practically materialized what Ritzer refers to as “globalization”. This should mean, by implication, that “professionals” across the globe would presumably relate to work and entertainment in a manner that expressed certain “globalized standards”. And yet, we know that such an idea remains problematic. That Diners Club membership would necessarily mean an adjustment to whatever “standards” cannot simply be taken for granted. For one thing, the very term “globalization” is too vague and unqualified to allow us to consider it a “concept” of any serious socio-historical usage. But much more specifically, the term forces us to posit the following concrete question: to what extent could one say that the Marakis family in 1979 or the “Cashier-Clerk” of 1983 had mutated into “global citizens”? To be able to accurately answer that type of question one needs to have already settled a number of issues – here, we can only point to these: a) it may be argued that processes of so-called “globalization” manifested themselves unevenly and always in accordance with the material and ideological/cultural conditions of the social formation wherein such processes would penetrate; b) as such, processes and standards of “globalization” would have to adjust to such conditions; c) this would mean that such processes and standards would ultimately manifest themselves in a distorted manner; d) such distortion would nonetheless maintain the essential elements of a discourse that wished to present work and “play” as a continuum of modern-day life; e) the unevenness, adjustment, distortion and maintenance would all be variables dependant on the social stratums wherein they would manifest themselves: “globalization standards” could become increasingly distorted as one moved down the ladder of social stratification and vice-versa. Of course, it would not only be social stratification as such that would determine the specific manifestations of “globalization” – one would also have to examine the realities of a geographical region, the sex and age of the subject, and so on. For instance, we know that Marakis’ daughters would be infinitely more “modern” and experimental than was their father. We also know that a “Cashier-Clerk” working in Athens would herself be more “modern” and experimental than would her counterpart in a region such as Aliartos. All along however, at least the rudiments of such continuum would be heralded by 1960’s advertizing discourse and would become distinct and integral characteristics of much of 1980’s discourse.

In 1980, the periodical Επίκαιρα would publish the following advertisement:

 

«Μάρσα Μάννινγκ

ΒΙΠΕΡ – ΝΟΡΑ…
Πικραμένη καρδιά

Στα είκοσι δύο της, η Κάρολ ήταν
μια επιτυχημένη διαφημίστρια.
Ήταν σίγουρη για τον εαυτό της,
κομψή, όμορφη και δυναμική.
Η μόνη αδυναμία της ήταν
Ο Τζιλ – ο Τζιλ, ο μόνος άντρας
που είχε σημασία στη ζωή της.
Μόνο ο Τζιλ έκανε τον σφυγμό της
να χτυπάει ξέφρενα και την
καρδιά της να μεθάει από έκσταση.
Μόνο ο Τζιλ την έκανε να βάζει
σε δεύτερη μοίρα
τις επαγγελματικές της φιλοδοξίες.
Και τώρα κάποιος της είπε
πως ο Τζιλ ήταν παντρεμένος…

ΕΚΥΚΛΟΦΟΡΗΣΕ…
ΒΙΠΕΡ»
(cf. Επίκαιρα, Αρ. Τεύχ. 601, 7.2.1980,
p. 3).

 

Before we examine this 1980 advertizing discourse, we shall have to say a few things about the type of book that was being promoted here – viz. the «Βίπερ – Νόρα» pocketbook series circulated by the Πάπυρος publishing company (which, by the way, also issued Επίκαιρα).

It would be in 1970 that the first «Βίπερ» pocketbook would circulate. Its price was relatively cheap, selling at 14 drachmas at the time (a newspaper would cost 2 drachmas). By 1975, Πάπυρος bought the serial rights for branded “lines” of category romance from the UK publishing company, Mills & Boon Ltd. (the latter being the UK’s market leader in romance stories and with a history that dated back to the 1930’s). Thus, the highly popular «Βίπερ – Νόρα» romantic series was to be launched in Greece in the mid 1970’s. It would be a lady by the name of Athina Kakouri that would be translating the «Βίπερ – Νόρα» romantic series. Perhaps we should also mention at this point that, by 1979, the «Βίπερ – Νόρα» pocketbooks would be challenged by their major competitor, «Άρλεκιν». The latter romantic series would be introduced to Greece by «Χάρλενικ [sic] Ελλάς Εκδοτική ΑΒΕΕ», and which would be related to the Canadian-based Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. The romantic discourse of the «Άρλεκιν» series would gradually mutate from a “soft” discourse to one that was more sexually provocative – book covers would often come to depict half-nude couples. Ultimately, it would be the «Άρλεκιν» series that would prevail over «Βίπερ – Νόρα».

It has been said that the zenith of the «Βίπερ – Νόρα» pocketbook would be between 1970 and 1976 (although, as we see in the Επίκαιρα advertisement above, the series would still be in circulation in the early 1980’s). Certain sources have suggested that the «Βίπερ» pocketbooks would come to constitute an «επανάσταση του βιβλίου στην Ελλάδα» (cf., inter alia, www.andro.gr/apopsi/viper-h-epanastash-tou-vivliou-sthn-ellada/ – most of the data cited herein have been retrieved from this source). Thus, the same source asserts:

 

«Η μεγάλη απήχηση των βιβλίων τσέπης
που κυκλοφόρησε η εκδοτική εταιρεία
Πάπυρος στη δεκαετία του ’70 ήταν ένα
εκδοτικό φαινόμενο που δύσκολα μπορεί
να επαναληφθεί…»
(ibid.).

 

And further, with respect to such pocketbooks, the same source continues:

 

«… έφερναν έναν αέρα μοντέρνας ζωής στο
ελληνικό περίπτερο»
(ibid.).

 

In an important sense, the «Βίπερ» pocketbooks – and especially the «Βίπερ – Νόρα» romantic novels read by young females – would play a role in the “Amalia-type’s” coming-of-age: the discourse of such novels would have an effect on the maturation of youth, and especially as regards a “modernistic” maturation both in the field of romance/sexuality and in the field of work.

We may now consider the Επίκαιρα advertisement promoting the romantic novel, Πικραμένη καρδιά. Its advertizing discourse, necessarily referring to both the field of work and to that of “eros”, takes the following form:

 

  1. The advertisement speaks of a young lady, «Κάρολ», who is just 22 years old: the discourse is mainly addressed to young females around that age.
  2. Although just 22 years of age, «Κάρολ» has managed to firmly establish herself in the business world – she is a successful executive in the advertizing industry («μια επιτυχημένη διαφημίστρια»). It is not incidental that she is a successful “career woman” in the advertizing industry in particular – working for an advertizing agency would gradually come to be considered “smart” and “glossy”, especially by the 1980’s. This was especially so in the UK, but being employed in the advertizing industry would become a “culture cute” practice throughout the Western world (as also in Greece). We may add here that although the so-called “adland” in the decade of the 1980’s remained relatively small, it was nonetheless perfectly formed and well-established. Alternatively, it has also been suggested that the 1980’s would be a time when advertizing would be “absolutely at the centre of things” – and, further, that this would be so for the first and last time (cf. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2009/may/18/advertising-1980’s). For the “New Amalia-type” of the early 1980’s, working for an advertizing agency – and doing so even as a typist or secretary – would be especially prestigious.
  3. «Κάρολ» was the generic “type” of female that had gradually emerged in the post-war period and which would take different forms in accordance with the material conditions within which such “type” sprouted. Working as a professional both pre-supposed and reinforced a specific state of mind – viz. that “type” of female that was sure of herself and thus, at least as regards her relations with the outside world, she would be brimming with “self-confidence” («Ήταν σίγουρη για τον εαυτό της»).
  4. This ambitious “careerist” would be both a “dynamic” woman and a “dynamic professional” («δυναμική», «επαγγελματικές… φιλοδοξίες»).
  5. Now, all this would have to be contrasted to a «Κάρολ» that carried another dimension of herself – viz. that of a sexually-conscious female who related to the world in terms of her physical beauty as a woman («κομψή, όμορφη»). We note that this (as “dynamic”) dimension of herself, and that of being a “dynamic professional”, are the double stigmata of a combinatory forming an uneasy continuum. Both stigmata are part and parcel of one, single discourse in the advertisement.
  6. It is necessarily an uneasy continuum because, although «Κάρολ» was in full possession of herself as a “careerist” brimming with “self-confidence”, she was at the same time hopelessly in love, revealing her irrepressible “weakness” («Η μόνη αδυναμία της»).
  7. But this tension-filled relationship between a “dynamic professional” and a woman “in-eros” would definitely not rule out the possibility that someone like «Κάρολ» could actually be “in love” both with her “career” and with «Τζιλ», and be so right at the same time. Both experiences would be as real and as deeply felt – the very contradiction between them could render them all the more intense as an interrelated experience. We may here contrast such real “myth-making” to an unreal, idealistic critique of the relationship between work and “play” – in his Minima moralia (Εκδόσεις Αλεξάνδρεια, 2000, p. 217), Theodor Adorno writes: «Ενώ ως προς τη δομή τους η εργασία και η διασκέδαση αλληλοεξομοιώνονται ολοένα περισσότερο, χωρίζονται ταυτόχρονα όλο και πιο αυστηρά με αόρατες συνοριακές γραμμές. Η ηδονή και το πνεύμα έχουν εκδιωχθεί εξίσου και από τις δύο. Τόσο στη μία όσο και στην άλλη κυριαρχούν η ζωώδης σοβαρότητα και η ψευτοδραστηριότητα». Adorno’s use of the term «εκδιωχθεί» suggests that both «Κάρολ» and «Τζιλ» have been expelled (by capital) from their paradisal garden – he does not bother to explain if such “garden” had ever existed or could exist in real history. Further, terms such as «ζωώδης σοβαρότητα» or «ψευτοδραστηριότητα» are neither measurable nor, more importantly, verifiable (for thinkers such as Rudolf Carnap, inter alia, such observations would be meaningless).
  8. We are saying that the hedonic passions had not been “expelled” from the “lifeworld” of a «Κάρολ», and these had not been “expelled” whether one sees her as a “dynamic professional” or as a woman per se. In fact, it was precisely in her capacity as a “dynamic professional” that «Κάρολ» experiences such hedonic passions – were it not in just such capacity, she would not have comprehended such passions as a contrasting “weakness” («αδυναμία»). Although the advertizing discourse expresses a reality that falsifies the metaphysics of thinkers such as Bataille (or Adorno for that matter), it nonetheless presents the hedonic passions of a “career woman” in a manner very much reminiscent of Bataille’s thought. While the latter would speak of the “ecstasy of eros” (op. cit.), the advertizing discourse presents as intense a picture of emotional experiences lived by a “dynamic professional”: «Μόνο ο Τζιλ έκανε τον σφυγμό της να χτυπάει ξέφρενα και την καρδιά της να μεθάει από έκσταση». The depth of such “ecstatic intoxication” could, potentially, have been shared by whatever member of the working “Amalia-type” throughout the historic period we are examining, and it could have been experienced either as she clocked in or out of her workplace.
  9. The advertizing discourse is realistic enough to point to the two basic types of conflict that such “ecstatic intoxication” could possibly generate: conflict or crisis within a family unit; and a possible crisis vis-à-vis one’s work.
  10. As regards the possibility of crisis within a family unit, the discourse hits the nail on the head: «Και τώρα κάποιος της είπε πως ο Τζιλ ήταν παντρεμένος…».
  11. With respect to the work ↔ eros contradiction, the advertizing discourse does something very simple but which was nonetheless beyond the dogmatic thinking of a Bataille: while it accepts the necessary realities of both work and “play”, it allows the latter to dominate over the former. The “ecstatic intoxication” of a «Κάρολ» does not eliminate the “economic” sphere (as does, theoretically, Bataille) – instead, it simply undermines such sphere: «Μόνο ο Τζιλ την έκανε να βάζει σε δεύτερη μοίρα τις επαγγελματικές της φιλοδοξίες». Obviously, it would be silly to assume that love relations would “triumph” over labour relations in the period we are examining – but what we are suggesting is that it would be the subject, placed within that arena which interrelated work and “erotic play”, that would decide on which sphere of life came first (were there to be a conflictual relationship between the two). Most often, we may assume, the “Amalia-type” would opt for some sort of compromise between her duties as an employee and whatever “ecstatic intoxication” would overwhelm her.

 

It is of some interest to note that, in the 1970’s, the main female character in a «Βίπερ – Νόρα» romantic novel would usually be in her twenties and she would be a virgin. Importantly, this type of character would be either a secretary, a teacher, a nurse or even a doctor. She would, in other words, be either a “White-Collar” employee or a “professional”. By the 1980’s, the main female character would now be in her thirties, perhaps suggesting that the time span in which one could continue playing “love games” was extendible (the question of virginity would now, symptomatic of reality, be dropped). Further, the main female character was now a tough professional, perhaps a lawyer, a company executive, a geologist or, again, a medical doctor. Both in the 1970’s and in the 1980’s, there would often be an attempt to either implicitly or explicitly negotiate the work ↔ “eros” spheres of a woman’s life. Essentially, the theme of “office romance” would dominate.

Such a theme would, naturally, come to permeate much of Greek literature, and would do so well beyond (and even before) the «Βίπερ – Νόρα» type of pocketbook. In fact, the “office romance” theme could raise its head even in novels or short stories written by Greek “Left-wingers”. A good example of this is the rather bad writing of a female “Left-wing” writer such as Kostoula Mitropoulou. In her collection of short stories, entitled Άρθρο nο. 22 – διηγήματα (Μίνωας, 1975), we come across a number of cases presenting “office romance” as an everyday phenomenon and pertaining to the 1960’s and 1970’s (all stories were written sporadically between 1967 and 1975). We shall here simply quote three samples:

 

Sample No. 1:

«Την είχε δει στο ασσανσέρ πρώτη φορά – “στο
πέμπτο” του είχε πει και κοιτάχτηκε στον καθρέφτη.
Τα μαλλιά της είχαν το χρώμα του χαλκού… Την
ξαναείδε το ίδιο βράδυ, την ώρα που σχόλαγαν
όλα μαζί τα γραφεία που ήταν στο ίδιο μέγαρο.
“Kαι σεις εδώ;” Κι όταν εκείνη τον βεβαίωσε πως ναι,
ήταν καινούργια υπάλληλος στις “Ασφάλειες” στο
πέμπτο, τότε της μίλησε για το γραφείο του, στο
έκτο… Όλη τη νύχτα είχε στο κορμί του αυτή την
παράξενη τρέμουλα, σα να τον είχαν χτυπήσει
δυνατά στις κλειδώσεις. Και το πρωί, άγρυπνος,
αξύριστος, πήγε στο γραφείο της να τη βρεί… Την
βρήκε σιωπηλή και χλωμή, “είσαι άρρωστη;”
τρόμαξε και της άρπαξε τα χέρια στα δικά του.
Τράβηξε κείνη τα χέρια της απότομα, “πως τολμούσε
εδώ μέσα, από στιγμή σε στιγμή μπορούσε ν’ ανοίξει
η πόρτα, και τότε όλοι θάλεγαν ότι…” Τα μάτια της
είχαν δακρύσει και κείνος την παρακαλούσε να μην
κλαίει, “δεν μπορώ να ζήσω μόνος μου πια”, της
είπε στο τέλος»
(cf. pp. 81-83).

Sample 2:

«… δεχόταν συγκινημένος τα συγχαρητήρια των
συναδέλφων του. Πιο πολύ απ’ όλους είχε
συγκινηθεί η Μαρία, μια συνάδελφος με χοντρά
γυαλιά μυωπίας και ελαφρό χνούδι στο πάνω χείλος.
Δεν ήταν άσχημη η Μαρία, κάθε άλλο, το χνούδι
τόβαφε με οξυζενέ και δεν φαινόταν καθόλου κι
όσο για τα γυαλιά, της έδιναν μια τρομαγμένη όψη
που θύμιζε παιδί ή πουλί ή και τα δύο. Φορούσε
συνήθως μπλούζα και φούστα στο γραφείο, και το
στήθος της ήταν πολύ νεανικό, του άρεσε να το βλέπει
με την άκρη του ματιού, καθώς έσκυβε πλάι του για
τα “προς διεκπεραίωσιν” εις τριπλούν αντίγραφα.
“Καλημέρα σας κύριε Νίκο. Ωραίο καιρό μας κάνει
σήμερα”. Και κείνος της χαμογελούσε “δεσποινίς
Μαίρη, η άνοιξις είναι μια εποχή με πολλές χαρές για
τα μάτια των ανθρώπων…” Εκείνη ήταν ενθουσιώδης
όπως όλες οι γυναίκες όταν νομίζουν ότι είναι
ερωτευμένες… Από την άλλη μέρα ερχόταν στο
γραφείο με χαμηλά παπούτσια [Nikos himself being
short] και φορούσε και κραγιόν τώρα, ένα χρώμα ροζ
σκοτωμένο που του θύμιζε πληγή σε ανάρρωση. Δεν
της είπε τίποτα γι’ αυτό, “το άρωμά σας είναι Γαλλικό;”
ρώτησε και κείνη έσκυψε πολύ κοντά του για να τη
μυρίσει καλύτερα, “δεν το αναγνωρίζετε;” Δικό του
δώρο ήταν, “μια κολώνια για νέα κοπέλα”, έτσι την
είχε ζητήσει και η πωλήτρια του είχε δώσει αυτήν.
“Πολύ έντονη είναι”, είπε. Πήγαν στο διαμέρισμά του
και κείνος δανείστηκε για την περίσταση και το
πικ-απ από την διπλανή – “μόνο γι’ απόψε, είναι μια
ιδιαίτερη βραδιά” και χαμογελούσε συνεπαρμένος…»
(ibid., pp. 118-120).

Sample 3:

«Είχανε πάρει την άδειά τους μέσα στην άνοιξη.
“Κανένα ευχάριστο γεγονός;” και την κοίταζαν με
νόημα στο γραφείο. Κοκκίνιζε ελαφρά και γύριζε
το βλέμμα της σε κείνον – “όχι ακόμα, είναι πολύ
νωρίς” και χαμογελούσε ευτυχισμένη… Είχανε
παντρευτεί τον Αύγουστο – το δέρμα της ήταν ζεστό
και είχε σκουρήνει. Με κείνο το άσπρο φόρεμα του
είχε φανεί όμορφη, πολύ όμορφη»
(ibid., p. 125).

 

The social phenomenon of “office romance” – whereby work and “erotic play” could be rather routinely (though not always unproblematically) combined – was definitely not a figment of some literary imagination and it was not merely a product of so-called “manipulative” semantics churned out by the advertizing industry. At least as regards “White-Collar” employees – as was the “Amalia-type” in Greece – it was a real social practice. Such practice was of course clearly evident around the Western world. A 1986 report surveying the behaviour of female “White-Collar” employees in New York had this to say:

 

“More and more people find romance in the
workplace… romances that start in the office
last four times longer than those that begin in
the singles bar or the health cub… In a survey
this year of 1.800 professional women between
the ages of 21 and 45, 56 percent reported having
had an affair with a co-worker, customer or
client…”
(cf. The Evening News, 25.3.1986).

 

On the other hand, when one speaks of “office romance”, one is immediately confronted with a major sociological question: could one argue that such type of workplace behaviour applied to both “White-Collar” and “Blue-Collar” workers? All along in this section of our project, we have been focusing on the “Amalia-type”, who was of course a “White-Collar” employee working as a “Cashier-Clerk” at the A&M Company: she belonged, therefore, to that category of employee that could potentially become involved in some “office romance”. But this does not really help us to escape the problem, if only because, and specifically as regards the Greek case, the dividing lines between job descriptions delineating “White-Collar” and “Blue-Collar” duties were often blurred. If only for that reason, we shall need to dwell on this question.

It has been argued, by a wide variety of 20th century “Marxist” thinkers – ranging from Gramsci through to Marcuse and various schools of industrial sociology – that the assembly line on the factory floor constitutes a regimentalized “total system” that does not allow the worker any “space” for free movement and thought, let alone whatever “erotic gamesplaying” (here, even the metaphysical thought of a Bataille would seem to be confirmed). More specifically, “Fordism” has been presented as a “total system” attempting to organize all the movements of a worker in relation to the assembly line of which he is an organic part. But even outside the factory gates, it has further been argued, the diets and drinking habits of workers would come under scrutiny, as would their sexual and emotional lives. Thus, both within the factory floor and outside of it, authentic “erotic practices” would be obliterated. Crudely extrapolating from such theories, Greek “Left-wing” writers such as Kostoula Mitropoulou could easily go ahead and speak of people as «Ζώα νεκρά» (op. cit., p. 95) or of a «χαμένη… ζωή» (op. cit., p. 97), and thus her stories revolving around “office romance” would usually go up in a smoke of existential disaster. Bataille’s suggestion that working people would suffer a loss of real self-respect (op. cit.), Adorno’s reference to the «ζωώδης», as also the alienating consequences of a regime such as “Fordism” on assembly line workers, are all clearly echoed in Mitropoulou’s admonitions:

 

«Η παρένθεση αυτή αφορά εσάς και τη
χαμένη σας ζωή – όταν λέω “χαμένη” εννοώ
ότι δεν υπήρξε ποτέ, καμιά ζωή σε σχέση με
σας. Εσείς βέβαια είχατε, η μάλλον θέλατε
να πιστεύετε ότι είχατε, μια κάποια προσωπική
ζωή»
(op. cit., p. 97).

 

There is of course some truth in the work of a brilliant thinker as was Gramsci, and especially with respect to his observations regarding “Fordism” – yet still, such observations are necessarily delimited by a specific historical context and therefore only reflect such historical period (and, in fact, do so only partly). But there is absolutely no truth at all in the ridiculous extrapolations of a writer such as Mitropoulou. Our basic position on this issue of “total systems” of control in the workplace may be summarized as follows:

 

  1. Generally speaking, and quite obviously so, the organizational structures and practices of “Fordism” have never been applied to the “economic” sphere across the board in Western societies. Such structures and practices were primarily evident in the automobile industry – or, in any case, they came to characterize the production line and its concomitant mass production of goods in certain particular sectors of industry. Further, “Fordist” practices in the strict sense would rarely be applied to “White-Collar” work processes. Debates around such issues have been on-going and highly controversial, but there is at least one fact that is rather obvious: “Fordist” practices could not possibly be applied to the office-work that the Greek “Amalia-type” would have to do, and that is why the approach of a writer such as Mitropoulou can very easily be rejected out of hand (for a taste of the controversies that have characterized debates around “Fordism”, cf., for instance, Bob Jessop, “Fordism and Post-Fordism: a critical reformulation”, in A.J. Scott & M.J. Storper (eds.), Pathways to regionalism and industrial development, London, Routledge, 1992).
  2. But much more importantly, and in keeping with the general thrust of this research project, we need to emphasize one central reality, at least with respect to the period we are examining: “Fordist” ethics would be ravaged by the “hedonistic popular culture” that was to surface by the 1960’s. The ethics of hard work and strict discipline presupposed by “Fordism” as a social ideology would have to succumb to and be overwhelmed by the socio-cultural and sexual revolution of the period (perhaps the best analysis of this phenomenon is Daniel Bell’s aptly entitled book, The cultural contradictions of capitalism, Basic Books, 1976). There is no way in which the working youth of the 1960’s and 1970’s – and including the Greek “Amalia-type” – could possibly be described as “cheerful robots” (à la C. Wright Mills, and which is what “Fordist” ideology was purported to be aiming at).
  3. Thus, at least outside the possible limitations that a working person could experience on certain shop floors, one would also experience the impact of a socio-cultural revolution that celebrated the individual and that individual’s sexual identity. Further, the “Fordist” understanding of work would be replaced by the celebration of work as a “career”, especially as regards “White-Collar” employees, but also as regards various categories of artisans. It is in such context that one would also have to consider the rise of the middle classes in the Western world and the relative peripheralization of the industrial working class (the bibliography on this is of course vast – cf., inter alia, Lawrence R. Samuel, The American middle class: a cultural history, Routledge, 2014).
  4. There are general conclusions that one may draw from all this: first and perhaps above all, one need remember that not all forms of capital are necessarily “Fordist” in their structural and practical organization (and that has been so even within the USA).
  5. A second conclusion, closely related to the first, is that capitalist forms of production have spread and crystallized in uneven ways across the Western world.
  6. Thirdly, such unevenness has especially been the case within Greece – here, it has been small scale capital that has been the dominant form of capital within the social formation. A perfectly representative case, of course, is that of the A&M Company.
  7. It is such unevenness and diversity of capitalist or quasi-capitalist production that allowed for a highly flexible division of labour and a “porosity” of structures (cf. our papers on the structural organization of the A&M Company and the behaviour of employees on the shop floor and Headquarters). These specific structures and practices in turn allowed for “free zones” exploited by employees in ways that could circumvent the dictates of employers. An examination of the structures and practices of a small-scale factory such as that of the A&M Company reveals various instances of “indiscipline” on the part of both “White-Collar” and “Blue-Collar” employees, and which usually led to the imposition of “fines”. It was just that very “porosity” of structures that enabled elements of the socio-cultural/sexual revolution to seep into the factory gates. But by saying this we do not mean to underplay the relative effectivity of the “bureaucratic despotism” of a boss such as Marakis; nor do we mean to say that “erotic gamesplaying” would threaten the productive process, whether in the factory proper or at Headquarters. But we do mean to emphasize that the “Fordist” type of discipline – attempting to control the behaviour of workers in some “scientific” manner – was simply not feasible in the vast majority of workplaces in Greece at the time.

 

What we have said above with respect to the “flexibility” and “porosity” of shop floor organization in Greek companies would basically apply to small-scale companies such as A&M. And yet, even in the case of companies such as that of the Douridas textile factory (op. cit.), which in 1977 would employ 323 workers, the relatively much tighter organizational structures therein would nonetheless in no way approximate the “Fordist” model. Thus, even within Douridas, there would definitely be “free zones” which were exploited by employees in ways which at times brought work and “play” much closer together. To the extent that the “Amalia-type”, as a “White-Collar” employee at the A&M Company, could find herself relegated to a “Blue-Collar” (or semi-Blue-Collar) employee at another production unit such as that of Douridas (given the perennial social mobility in Greece), it would be interesting to consider in what precise ways she or her colleagues could “beat” the factory system. While the mobility of the “Amalia-type” is here purely hypothetical, the cases we shall present below are absolutely factual. They express “moments” of “free zone practices” in the 1970’s – it was such “free zone activity”, creating a continuum between work and “play”, that was being consistently presented in “mythological” terms by advertizing discourse itself.

File No. 110 of the Douridas Company Archives contains, inter alia, an endless series of “penalties” meted out to employees between 1976 and 1979. We shall here only consider a small sample of such “penalties” and other related company announcements:

 

  1. Penalty to male worker, 1976 – «διότι κατ’ επανάληψιν έρχετε εις το εργοστάσιον μεθυσμένος». Such regular “intoxication” would inevitably blur the dividing line between work and “play”. The Douridas company code of conduct booklet (entitled «ΚΑΝΟΝΙΣΜΟΣ», dated February 1976, and covering both “White-Collar” and “Blue-Collar” employees – cf. File No. 16 of the Douridas Archives) would be very specific as regards drunkenness on the shop floor – it decreed: «Απαγορευτικαί διατάξεις… Η εισαγωγή και χρήσις οινοπνευματωδών ποτών. Προσέλευσις εν μέθη εις την εργασίαν απαγορεύεται. Ο εν μέθη προσερχόμενος απομακρύνεται αμέσως εκ του εργοστασίου χωρίς να δικαιούται εκ τούτου να ζητήση το ημερομίσθιον της ημέρας εκείνης, θεωρούμενος αντιθέτως ότι απουσίασεν αδικαιολογήτως…» (ΑΡΘΡΟΝ 13ον, 3).
  2. Penalty to the factory watchman, 1977 – «… ο θυρωρός… τιμωρείτε… διότι άνευ άδειας του προϊσταμένου του έκανε αλλαγή βάρδιας με συναδέλφον του… Επίσης τιμωρείτε… διότι επέτρεψε εις εργαζόμενον να εξέλθη του εργοστασίου…» The Douridas factory watchman, whose job description called on him, inter alia, to control the movement of employees entering and exiting the shop floor, violates the factory code in a double manner. First, he takes it upon himself to decide when he and his counterpart shall work their shift; secondly, he decides, obviously in response to some request of a particular employee, when the latter shall exit the factory and enter the world of “free time”. Here, the regimentalized practice of clocking in and out – presumably the prerogative of the employer and his factory system – has been turned upside down.
  3. Announcement to the workforce as a whole, 1977 – «Διά τους άνδρες που καπνίζουν επιτρέπονται τρία τσιγάρα εις το οκτάωρον και θα ζητούν άδεια από τον προϊστάμενόν τους». This company announcement – pertaining to the regularity of smoking and the need to ask for permission to smoke – can be viewed from two different angles: on the one hand, one may here definitely speak of a rigorously despotic factory system aimed at preempting the erosion of shop floor discipline and thereby guaranteeing productive efficiency. On the other hand, the sheer fact that workers were being granted an official smoke break means that they would have “moments” of real “free time” at their disposal and at a spot away from the point of production. Further, one may suppose that the Douridas management was simply trying to regulate a pre-existing situation whereby workers would be “breaking” factory discipline at their own will so as to smoke – which suggests that some “free zone activity” was already in operation. The company’s «ΚΑΝΟΝΙΣΜΟΣ» had already stipulated in 1976: «Απαγορευτικαί διατάξεις… Το κάπνισμα κατά την ώραν εργασίας» (ΑΡΘΡΟΝ 13ον, 2). Such absolute decree – prohibiting smoking as such – would simply not apply one year later.
  4. Penalty to two workers, 1977 – «διότι… ευρίσκοντο εις τα αποδυτήρια χωρίς άδεια…». These two employees had decided to escape work by simply walking away from the point of production and hiding in the factory’s changing rooms. What it was that they did in the “free space” which they had created for themselves – the particular form of “gamesplaying” – can be left to the imagination of the sociologist (or, perhaps, the industrial psychologist).
  5. Penalty to male worker, 1977 – «διότι έφυγε από την εργασίαν του και βρέθηκε να κουβεντιάζη με εργάτριες». Here we had an open violation of factory discipline whereby the male worker simply abandons his work post and walks over to another department of the shop floor manned by women. This would be an openly “illegal” interaction between members of the opposite sex (factory records suggest that the women themselves escaped being penalized in this particular case). The exact intentions of this male worker remain unknown, although a certain “pursuit of pleasure” (if only through mere social contact) cannot be ruled out. It is interesting to note here that certain schools of sociology, focusing on sexuality in the workplace, have researched the interaction between males and females on the shop floor and come up with conclusions which suggest that such interaction may result in either “sexual harassment” or in a “pursuit of pleasure” or in a subtle combination of both such practices (cf. C.L. Williams, P.A. Giuffre & K. Dellinger, “Sexuality in the workplace: organizational control, sexual harassment, and the pursuit of pleasure”, in Annual review of sociology, vol. 25, 1999, pp. 73-93; also cf. South African labour bulletin, volume 14, number 4, October 1989, which includes a special feature entitled “Women workers in the unions” and which examines sexual relations between male and female workers). With respect to the Greek case, we may note that many women would often find themselves on a shop floor where they would have to interact with males other than their husbands. At least for certain segments of Greek society, such circumstances could often be interpreted as some type of “promiscuity” between men and women in the workplace, and which could yield accusations of “loose morals” amongst female employees (all these are mere observations which remain to be verified by the Greek social historian, though they are phenomena noted by many non-Greek social historians in examining worker history – cf., especially, E.P. Thompson, op. cit., p. 452 et al). We may also note here that the Douridas company «ΚΑΝΟΝΙΣΜΟΣ» would specifically forbid whatever “social interaction” between employees while working («να μη συζητούν μεταξύ των» – ΑΡΘΡΟΝ 10ον, 12).
  6. Announcement to the workforce as a whole, 1977 – «Ανακοινούμεν ότι, η συγκέντρωσις δια την εκδρομήν θα γίνη εις την εκκλησίαν του Αγίου Γεωργίου. Ώρα αναχωρήσεως 07.00… Η εταιρεία θα χορηγήση εις τους εργαζομένους φαγητόν…». Here, the Douridas management announces that all of its workforce, presumably both “White-Collar” and “Blue-Collar” employees, shall be going on an excursion. Certain schools of industrial sociology have seen company-organized excursions or picnics as part of a “team-building” process – management, it is argued, aims at building “company loyalty” or a “company culture” among its employees. Such an approach definitely makes sense: one can imagine the Douridas management struggling to maintain some cohesion within a workforce which, in the 1970’s, would be ravaged by party-political differences, the interventions of trade unions and a shop floor organizational “politicization” amongst at least certain segments of its employees. Industrial sociologists have gone even further: rightly so, they have examined company-organized excursions and picnics as managerial practices aimed at the “co-optation” of the workforce so as to secure industrial “peace”, thereby pre-empting shop floor activities that could hamper production and the desired levels of productivity. Yet other industrial sociologists have gone even further – for them, company-organized excursions and picnics aim at a monitoring of worker leisure-time pursuits. There is much truth in all such approaches – and yet, they are all rather one-sided in that they focus exclusively on the intentions of management. They fail to distinguish between the intentions of a particular strategy and the final consequences of such strategy. But to understand the final consequences, one should also examine the intentions of the employees themselves. Consider, for instance, what one research study came up with on examining company-organized picnics amongst workers in Chicago – this is what was noted: “Workers eagerly anticipated the outings and creatively transformed company picnics into personal holidays” (cf. Colin Fisher, Urban green: nature, recreation, and the working class in industrial Chicago, The University of North Carolina Press, 2015, p. 128). One can see that this “creative” redefinition of company intentions would yield a “free zone” amounting to “personal holidays”, with an emphasis on the “personal”. Such emphasis on the “personal” would mean “gamesplaying” amongst working people and, naturally, such “playing” could extend into fields of the very “personal” – viz. the “erotic”. Thus, one clearly sees here a combinatory continuum between activities related to work and activities related to “spare time” (or “play”). In a 1970’s Greek context ravaged not only by politics but by a sexual revolution that would explode following the fall of the Military Dictatorship, one can only imagine what truly happened in the course of the Douridas-organized picnics. Here, we could perhaps mention the cases of two Athens-based company excursions organized in the 1980’s – case 1: a female member of the excursion group made overt sexual approaches to a younger male participating in the excursion – on realizing that her approaches were leading to a dead-end, she gradually turned her attention to the driver of the tour bus. When the excursion was over, the female was invited by the driver to stay on the bus, and they copulated therein; case 2: in the course of a weekend excursion, two females were behaving licentiously towards various males – ultimately, they both spent the night taking turns to copulate with one member of the excursion. We are not at all suggesting that such overt licentiousness was the general pattern of company excursions in the 1970’s or the 1980’s – the point we wish to emphasize is that company excursions offered yet more “free zones” for employees to relate work with “play” as such, whatever forms such “play” would take.
  7. Warning to the workforce as a whole, 1977 – «Τον τελευταίο καιρό η διακοπή του φαγητού [i.e., meal breaks] δεν γίνεται δεκάλεπτος αλλά διαρκεί περισσότερον… εάν συνεχισθή η κατάστασις θα επιβάλη [i.e., the company would impose] τας προβλεπομένας ποινάς». While management would be trying to regulate meal breaks by limiting them to a ten minute period, employees would use the opportunity offered by such breaks to create more free time for themselves, thereby establishing yet another “free zone” during work hours. We may assume that this violation of company regulations would be provoked by the need to avoid work and/or the need to socialize. We may further assume that such socializing would also take the form of contact between male and female employees. In fact, it is probable that it was especially this male-female socializing that had provoked the infringement of rules – we may say this because by 1978, when management would decide to establish new canteen installations, it would also decide to impose a sex-based segregation within such installations. Industrial sociologists have often explored the phenomenon of segregating factory lunchrooms by gender, and much research work has shown that the factory canteen, where males and females would mingle, could function as a “zone” for “erotic” or quasi-“erotic” practices. For instance, Angélique Janssens, in her book entitled Family and social change: the household as a process in an industrializing community (Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 42), makes the following observation with respect to Dutch working people in the early 20th century: “Especially during lunch breaks it was considered almost impossible to keep the girls from losing their innocence”.
  8. Penalty to male worker, 1977 – «διότι… επισκεύαζε το μηχανάκι του την ώρα της εργασίας». This kind of behaviour need not necessarily be seen as some sort of conscious attempt at “sabotaging” the labour process. It is true to say that certain schools of industrial sociology – usually those of a “Marxian” persuasion – would see such type of behaviour as a form of “resisting” capital. They would, in other words, interpret such worker action in terms of the more general context of “worker sabotage”, “go-slows”, and so-called “empty labour” (for a discussion of the latter from a non-“Marxian” position, cf. Roland Paulsen, Empty labour – idleness and workplace resistance, Cambridge University Press, 2014). For our purposes, we need not consider whether the male worker at the Douridas factory was in fact engaged in some form of “resistance” – but what we can definitely assert is that he had established his own “private space” within the factory gates and during formal work hours. His action may be interpreted as an “individualistic” private activity, but it in any case verifies the idea that the Douridas plant came nowhere near approximating the regimentalized discipline of “Fordist” labour practices.
  9. Announcement to the workforce as a whole, 1978 – «… απαγορεύεται αυστηρώς η μεταξύ σας τηλεφωνική επικοινωνία». This announcement does not of course imply that “Blue-Collar” workers within the Thiva-based Douridas factory were actually engaged in telephonic communication amongst one another or across departments. Rather, it seems that such telephonic communications were taking place amongst the “White-Collar” employees and especially between those based in the various branches of the company (Thiva, Patra and Agrinio). Evidence further suggests that the Douridas “White-collar” employees based in the local headquarters of each of the three plants had also been engaging in telephonic conversations with their counterparts in the Athens-based central offices of the company. The ruling that all telephonic communication between employees was to be henceforth strictly forbidden suggests that there must have been a heavy abuse of the telephone for purposes not related to work. Thus, one may speak of the “telephone game” as just another form of “gamesplaying” within the workplace. With respect to American office workers in 1981, it has been observed that the “telephone game” in the workplace had constituted a usual practice amongst “White-Collar” employees. According to telecommunications consultants interviewed in 1981, “As much as 40% of a company’s long-distance telephone expense may result from phone abuse by employees”. And further: “… the average American office worker makes four to six personal calls in a working day” (cf. Sara Delano, “Curbing phone abuse at work”, www.inc.com/magazine/19810601/2828.html). The “telephone game” amongst Greek “White-Collar” employees must have been much more excessive in relation to American office workers given the relative scarcity of telephones in 1970’s Greece – we simply note that, as late as 1975, the overall number of telephone calls per capita in the USA was four times that of Greece (cf. Richard W. Bulliet, ed., The Columbia history of the 20th century, Columbia University Press, N.Y., 1998, p. 388). This relative scarcity of telephones would mean that those privileged few who did have access to the phone – such as the Greek “White-Collar” employee – would tend to overuse (or abuse) the phone.
  10. Penalties to various workers, both male and female, 1978 – for what management deemed to be «ανάρμοστον συμπεριφοράν». The Douridas File documents do not always indicate the exact nature of such “misconduct” or “disorderly behaviour” on the shop floor. Generally speaking, “misconduct” or “disorderly behaviour” can include a wide variety of violations as defined by either Labour Law or a company’s code of conduct – empirical research undertaken by industrial sociologists has shown that such behaviour could take at least four forms: a) sexual harassment; b) sexually oriented behaviour (ranging from a particular body language to, even, the use of a suggestive voice); c) insubordination directed at one’s supervisor, whereby the employee shows an unwillingness to carry out a directive from his/her supervisor; d) insolence directed at one’s supervisor, constituting some kind of disrespectful behaviour towards his/her supervisor. Obviously, the first two cases of behaviour relate to the “erotic zone” while the cases of insubordination and insolence relate to some type of “resistance” to authority (be that individual-based or collective-based). The Douridas “penalties” meted out to employees due to «ανάρμοστον συμπεριφοράν» must have related to such types of “infringements”. One can tell what forms of “misconduct” were taking place on the Douridas shop floor or in its offices by examining the rules laid out in the company’s code of conduct (op. cit.). With respect to problems of insubordination and insolence, the code stipulates the duties of employees as follows: «Να σέβονται τους ανωτέρους των και να υπακούουν εις τας υποδείξεις και εντολάς των άνευ αντιρρήσεων ή σχολίων» (ΑΡΘΡΟΝ 10ον, 4). Further: «Να επιδεικνύουν έναντι των προϊσταμένων των προθυμίαν δια την εκτέλεσιν των δεδομένων εντολών και υποδείξεων, να συμπεριφέρωνται κοσμίως και μετά του προσήκοντος σεβασμού, να αποφεύγουν τας μεταξύ των αντεγκλήσεις και χειροδικίας και να μη βλασφημούν…» (ΑΡΘΡΟ 10ον, 14). Much more importantly for our purposes, the code also points to potential problems related to the “erotic zone” – it stipulates the type of behaviour which is strictly forbidden: «Οι αστεϊσμοί, τα πειράγματα και οι ανήθικοι χαρακτηρισμοί και προτάσεις απαγορεύονται αυστηρώς επιφέρουσαι βαρυτάτας ποινάς» (ΑΡΘΡΟΝ 13ον, 18). This ruling clearly suggests that employees could potentially indulge in behaviour constituting either sexual harassment or in some sort of sexually oriented practices between males and females. The “erotic”, therefore, could be a “free zone” practice within the factory gates, whether in the company offices or on the shop floor.
  11. Penalty to male worker, 1978 – «διότι απεμακρύνθη επί ημίωρον περίπου εκ της θέσεως εργασίας του περιφερόμενος στα διάφορα τμήματα, άνευ εγκρίσεως του προϊσταμένου του». This case is similar to that of case 5 above. The worker’s intentions may or may not have been sexually oriented, but the fact that he was merely wandering around the factory from one department to another could suggest that he was “socializing”. We may add here that the company’s «ΚΑΝΟΝΙΣΜΟΣ» would specifically forbid such type of behaviour: «Απαγορεύεται εις τους εργαζομένους… η άνευ αδείας του προϊσταμένου απομάκρυνσις οιουδήποτε εκ της εργασίας του και η άσκοπος περιφορά του από τμήματος εις τμήμα» (ΑΡΘΡΟΝ 13ον, 1).
  12. Penalty to female worker, 1978 – «επεβλήθη αργία 2 ημερών διότι εις γενομένην παρατήρησιν του μηχ/κου… διατί εγκαταλείπει την εργασίαν της τον εξύβρισε». Of course, the abandonment of one’s work post was not behaviour exclusively limited to that of male employees. And here we have the case of a female worker who seems to have been systematically or regularly abandoning her work post. Further, although the female worker must have been fully aware that she was infringing company rules, she nonetheless had the “audacity” to verbally counter-attack a superior (and who also happened to be male).
  13. Penalty to four female employees, 1978 – «διότι συνομιλούσαν εν ώρα εργασίας». Here we had the imposition of a collective penalty. The fact that all four female employees were busy talking with one another constitutes a clear case of collective “socializing” on the shop floor. As already mentioned above, the «ΚΑΝΟΝΙΣΜΟΣ» anticipates and forbids such behaviour: «Άπαντες οι εργαζόμενοι υποχρεούνται… να μη συζητούν μεταξύ των…» (ΑΡΘΡΟΝ 10ον, 12).
  14. Penalty to male worker, 1978 – «δι’ απρεπή συμπεριφοράν προς προϊσταμένην». This type of behaviour would most probably come under the rubric discussed in case 10 above. It is of special interest because it involves male-female relations on the shop floor – the term «απρεπή» could suggest any behaviour ranging from that of simply being rude to doing something indecent or obscene.
  15. Dismissal of female worker due to continual absenteeism, 1978 – the company’s decision to dismiss the employee reads as follows: «Ανακοινούμεν ότι, την 25/9/78 απελύθη η εργάτρια του τμήματος ΚΑΡΝΤΕ Παπαχαραλάμπους Αικατερίνη λόγω συνεχών απουσιών άλλοτε αδικαιολογήτων και άλλοτε με το αιτιολογικόν της ασθενείας». The phenomenon of absenteeism, amongst both male and female employees, was perhaps the most common cause for either the dismissal or the penalization of an employee, at least as regards the Douridas factory. The case presented here, therefore, is just one sample amongst many others. Much has been written about the role of absenteeism in employment relations. According to Steve Williams and Derek Adam-Smith, “It often reflects workers’ dissatisfaction with the conditions of their labour, and can thus constitute a form of withdrawal from work…” And further: “The frustrations, pressures, and tensions that confront individuals in the working environment are relieved through the taking of an occasional ‘sickie’. In this way, absenteeism may be viewed as the archetypal form of unorganized industrial conflict” (cf. their study, Contemporary employment relations: a critical introduction, Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 348, my emph.). To the extent that employee absenteeism is not caused by genuine health problems or other inescapable practical circumstances – to the extent, that is, that it is a consciously selected act of “relief” on the part of the employee – one may say that it constitutes the conscious creation of “free time”, which may be described as yet another form of “gamesplaying”. The Douridas company «ΚΑΝΟΝΙΣΜΟΣ» devotes a special section meant to deal with the problem of absenteeism – inter alia, it stipulates: «Αδικαιολόγητοι απουσίαι. Πάσα απουσία μη δικαιολογημένη, αποδεδειγμένως θεωρείται αυθαίρετος. Αυθαίρετος επίσης θεωρείται η απουσία και εις την περίπτωσιν που ο απουσιάζων δικαιολογημένως δεν ειδοποιήση εγκαίρως περί τούτου… Εις περίπτωσιν επανειλημμένων αυθαιρέτων απουσιών, η Διεύθυνσις δύναται κατά τας περιστάσεις να θεωρήση αυτάς ως βούλησιν του απουσιάζοντος να λύση την υφισταμένην σύμβασιν εργασίας, οπότε ούτος απομακρύνεται εκ της εργασίας του άνευ ουδεμιάς υποχρεώσεως της εταιρείας προς αποζημίωσιν, καταγγελίαν της συμβάσεως κ.λ.π.».
  16. The phenomenon of absenteeism, which we have suggested may be interpreted as a conscious creation of “free time” under certain given conditions, could take a number of varying forms. One could choose to absent himself from the workplace for a whole day (or days), or one could choose to abscond from work for just a few moments in the course of his/her work hours, and one could do the latter collectively with others. Doing it collectively, of course, could potentially intensify the “gamesplaying”, thus further blurring the distinction between the “economic” and the “extra-economic” fields. Simply so as to supplement what we have said for case 15, we present the following «ΑΝΑΚΟΙΝΩΣΙΣ», dated 23.9.1978: «Οι κάτωθι εργαζόμενοι εις το τμήμα του ΚΑΡΝΤΕ τιμωρούνται δια την εξής αιτίαν και με το εξής ποσόν έκαστος… 1) Ποταμιά Κων/να 2) Ποταμιά Αικατ. διότι απουσίασαν αδικαιολόγητα κατ’ επανάληψιν με εκατό (100) δρχ. η κάθε μία… 3) Κουτελού Μαρία διότι την 19/9/78 απουσίασεν άνευ αδείας εκ του τμήματος εν ώρα εργασίας με εκατό (100) δρχ… 4) Οι εργάτες Καραμάνος Αθαν. και Ευαγγελάκος Ιωάν. διότι την 21/9/78 απεχώρησαν από το τμήμα τους κατά 15’ λεπτά ενωρίτερον του κανονικού με πεντήκοντα (50) δρχ. ο καθένας».
  17. Penalty to three male workers, 1978 – «συνελήφθησαν… να ακούνε μουσική εντός αυτοκινήτου εν ώρα εργασίας». This particular event within the Douridas factory has been discussed elsewhere above, in examining the Sinatra “cultural brand” and the question of popular entertainment. It surely constitutes a perfect example of how work and “play” could be brought together all at the same time by working people. These three workers, bonded by feelings of camaraderie, had decided to give up their work posts, enter a vehicle which provided them with access to a radio, and entertained themselves by listening to music. They of course knew all too well that they were taking a major risk.
  18. Penalty to two male workers, 1978 – «ευρέθησαν… να αστειεύονται εν ώρα εργασίας». This case has also been discussed in examining the Sinatra “cultural brand”, and is yet another perfect example of combining work with “play”. Of course, such behaviour would violate the company’s «ΚΑΝΟΝΙΣΜΟΣ», ΑΡΘΡΟΝ 13ον, 18, which clearly stipulated that «Οι αστεϊσμοί… απαγορεύονται αυστηρώς», as discussed in case 10 above.
  19. Penalty to male worker, 1978 – «ευρέθη υπό του Κου Δουρίδα εις πρωϊνήν του επίσκεψιν να κοιμάται». It would be stretching things just a bit too far to suggest here that such sleeping on-the-job constituted the “creation” of a “free zone activity” on the part of a worker. One would have to keep in mind that this worker (like most “Blue-Collar” employees at the Douridas factory) was doing shift-work, which can naturally cause sleep-deprivation and over-fatigue. Sleeping on the shop floor, therefore, would hardly be a “willed choice” on the part of working people. On the other hand, sociologists have devoted little attention to a sociological study of “the sleeping state” (and whenever they have done so their findings have been trivial and commonplace). But it would be interesting to investigate “the state of wakefulness” (here, alertness to the production process on the shop floor) vis-à-vis “the sleeping state” as some form of “consciousness alteration” (here, non-productive “dream-work” on the shop floor), and thereby gauge the manner/s in which a working person extricates himself from the real material conditions around him, and then inevitably pays the price for it. All we may say here is that such research work can get extremely complex in that it would presuppose the combined efforts of industrial sociologists, psychologists and social historians (sleeping habits have their own “history”). Finally, we should add that perhaps one of the more serious studies concerned with the relation between work and sleep is that of Sarah Burgard and Jennifer Ailshire, Putting work to bed: stressful experiences on the job and sleep quality, Population Studies Center, University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research, Research Report No. 08-52, July 2008.
  20. The patterns of “misconduct” described above for the years 1976-1978 would be more or less the same for the year 1979. File No. 110 of the Douridas Company Archives contains documents which stipulate a variety of “penalties” meted out to employees in 1979 – all such “penalties” verify that employee “misconduct” continued unabated throughout that year. Cases very much similar to those presented above would include the following: a) workers would stop working well prior to the formal clocking-off time; b) workers would absent themselves for a certain length of time from their work-posts; c) workers would be caught smoking while at the same time they would be found to be in some sort of improper physical posture («απρεπή στάσιν»); d) workers would be penalized or there would be threats of dismissal following unjustified absenteeism; e) workers would be penalized for entering the shop floor before the stipulated time limit, and so on and so forth.

 

We have focused on the 1976-1979 time period simply because the Douridas Archives happen to provide us with systematically recorded data pertaining to those years – one may assume that this phenomenon of creating “free zones” of activity while at work was a practice that took place both prior to and after the time period examined. Further, we know that similar types of “misbehaviour” were occurring at the A&M factory (cf. our case-studies of A&M employees, both on the shop floor and at Headquarters).

Naturally, and as we have seen, all cases of “misbehaviour” would be followed by the imposition of rather painful “economic penalties”, or could lead to either temporary or permanent dismissals. But all such disciplinarian measures would recur time and again – practically, this would mean that neither the shop floor nor the factory offices would ever be a “total institution” of “cheerful robots” (à la C. Wright Mills). In fact, both the recurrence and the strictness of “penalties” presuppose the reality of rule-breaking and therefore the existence of “free zones” of autonomous behaviour. Such autonomous behaviour would be the attempt, on the part of employees, to combine work with “play”. It was precisely this reality that advertizing discourse would wish to reflect – to the extent that such reality was being either sugarcoated or exaggerated, advertizing discourse would be legitimately engaged in “myth-making”. We say ‘legitimately’ because there is an important sense in which the employees of a Douridas or a Marakis would themselves be engaged in some form of “myth-making” – viz. experimenting with autonomous behaviour within a factory system that was ipso facto repressive. But such “myth-making” cannot be reduced to an illusion of “false consciousness” – it was as real as was the punishment that went with it.

The central conclusion to be drawn here may be put as follows: on the shop floor and in the office, employees had been connecting their own dots and creating links between their “moments” of work and their “moments” of “play”. It was just this reality, we are suggesting, that advertizing discourse sought to capture in its own way.

We have said that it would be in the decade of the 1980’s that advertizing discourse would most obviously and as emphatically try to connect the dots that linked all the “moments” in the life of the “New Amalia-type”. An interesting example of this type of discourse would appear in the indirect advertizing of various fashion houses usually promoted by the Επίκαιρα periodical of the 1980’s. Consider the following:

 

«Σανέλ για το ‘81

Ο Φιλίπ Γκιμπουρζέ, ο σχεδιαστής του
πρέτ-à-πορτέ του οίκου Σανέλ, αποφάσισε
ν’ ανατρέψει τις ιδέες για την κλασική
μόδα της Μεγάλης Δεσποινίδας. Έτσι για
το 1980-81 φαντάζεται τη ζωή μιας γυναίκας
στο διάστημα της ημέρας, παίζει με τη
διάθεσή της για αλλαγή και σχεδιάζει
εντυπωσιακά μοντέλα για κάθε στιγμή»
(cf. Επίκαιρα, Αριθ. Τεύχ. 611, 17-23.4.1980,
p. 107, my emph.).

 

The “grand” female was to be re-translated into the “Amalia-type” of the 1980’s in her “everydayness”. This mutated or mutating “Amalia-type” is characterized by a mood for continual change within that “everydayness”. The latter was a series of “moments” («για κάθε στιγμή») all of which mattered and which were to be united by fashion. Alternatively, one may say that fashion had no choice but follow the “moments” in the day of a woman – the “continuum” was the veritable “democratization” of the “moment”, it being the “democratization” of “everydayness” as such. Thus, the aloofness of the “grand” female would by now be debunked.

The popular socio-cultural discourse of the 1980’s – as also much of the concomitant advertizing discourse – would present female “beauty” and “intellect” as two sides of the same coin. Such interlinking of the two would become a dominant discourse throughout the Western world and would percolate through to the so-called peripheries of the capitalist world, including Greece. In 1986, the daily newspaper, Απογευματινή, would publish an article that very accurately captured the socio-cultural “atmosphere” of the period – accompanied by pictures depicting an attractive sixteen year-old, it read as follows:

 

«Αυτό είναι το κορίτσι του 1986…

Θα συμφωνήσετε κι εσείς πως είναι όμορφη
σαν ζωγραφιά η 16χρονη Βικτώρια που φιγουράρει
κορνιζαρισμένη σε μια βικτωριανής εμπνεύσεως
κορνίζα. Αυτά μετά την ανάδειξή της ως το
“πρόσωπο του ‘86” σε ένα διαγωνισμό ομορφιάς
στον οποίο πήραν μέρος χιλιάδες νεαρές Βρετανίδες.
Τώρα η Βικτώρια θα πάει στην Ιταλία για να πάρει
μέρος στο διεθνή διαγωνισμό “ΛΟΥΚ ‘86”… η ίδια
όμως διαβεβαιώνει πως όσο και να “σκίσει” δεν
πρόκειται να εγκαταλείψει το σχολείο της: Είναι
αριστούχος και έχει μεγάλες προσδοκίες και στο στίβο
της διανόησης. Ποιος το ‘πε πως αυτά τα δύο δεν
πάνε ποτέ μαζί;»
(cf. Απογευματινή, 12.8.1986, p. 5, my emph.).

 

Such prevailing socio-cultural discourse – wherein “beauty” and “intellect” would be placed side by side – would really be the consummation of developments that had commenced back in the decade of the 1960’s.

 

We may summarize this sub-section on advertizing discourse related to “eros” – and how “eros” was being related to work – as follows:

  1. Advertizing discourse as-a-whole, for the period we are discussing, would gradually come to establish various gradations of a continuum between the world of “eros” and the world of work. Such “myth-making” would in fact be “adjusting” to the socio-cultural “myth-making” of the maturing “Amalia-type”. Discourse would feed on the “Amalia-type” and vice versa.
  2. This reality needs to be contrasted to all “metaphysics” – usually of a Marxian persuasion – that wishes to draw an “essentialist” distinction between the “economic” and the “extra-economic” spheres (Bataille’s “metaphysics” being one rather extreme case of such thinking).
  3. The reality we have attempted to capture (based on empirical research and not on some eschatological paradigm of hope) constituted the “lifeworld” and the “everydayness” of the “Amalia-type”.
  4. This “lifeworld” was a tripartite “everydayness” composed of the “economic” sphere, the “extra-economic” free time sphere, and an “in-between” sphere – there would be the persistent attempt to unite such spheres both in advertizing discourse and via the lived psychology of the real “Amalia-type”. At the same time, all three spheres could only but maintain their relative autonomy with respect to one another. But advertizing discourse could create links between such relatively autonomous spheres by taking such autonomy into account. This is one important reason why one could also come across specific advertisements that dwelt exclusively on only one of these spheres – here, it would be advertizing discourse as-a-whole that would do the ideological work of uniting that one specific sphere with the rest. It would also be the real person of the “Amalia-type” that would wish to conjoin any one sphere with the next (this would be a natural wish on the part of the “Amalia-type”, unless one wishes to stigmatize such type either as “schizophrenic” or “one-dimensional”).
  5. With respect to the specifically “economic” sphere, our findings allow us to make the following points: while, on the one hand, both the shop floor and the office would be characterized by employer “despotism” exercised over employees, at least a segment of such employees (mainly “White-Collars” like the “Amalia-type”) would gradually come to adopt a “work ethic” that enabled them to pursue the socio-cultural practices of “careerism”. The maturing “Amalia-type” would be characterized by real professional ambitions that the likes of a Bataille would never be able to recognize. Advertizing discourse which related to work would promote such new “work ethic”. At the same time, such advertizing discourse would suppress the reality of workplace “despotism” – but that too would be in keeping with the spirit of an ambitious “careerism”.
  6. More than that, the suppression of the reality of “despotism” in advertizing discourse did not constitute a blatant distortion of the truth: what may be described as the “in-between” sphere in the “everydayness” of an employee was precisely those “free zones” created by employees in the workplace which enabled them to beat whatever “total system” of employee “despotism”. By breaking such system, they would – as we have tried to show – also be connecting their own dots and creating links with the “extra-economic” sphere. Advertizing discourse would wish to express such unity of one’s “everydayness” by presenting a female’s “lifeworld” as an interlinked series of “moments”.
  7. With respect to the “extra-economic” sphere of free time and how this was expressed in advertizing discourse, our findings enable us to make the following points: First, while advertizing discourse could often present the “Amalia-type” with fashion paradigms of “ideal beauty”, it would at the same time advise Greek females to ignore “high fashion” and “adjust” their tastes to the practical needs of their own “everydayness” and to the aesthetic needs of their own personal “type”. Second, the emphasis on “personalized” fashion would translate into a “democratization” of all fashion tastes – such “democratization” would itself mean the “absolute freedom” of the “Amalia-type” with respect to aesthetic choices. Third, this “freedom” could translate into a choice for one’s personal experience of “sensuality”, and which could further take the form of one’s personal experience of the “erotic” per se. Thus, the “extra-economic” sphere of free time pertaining to the Greek female would be expressed in advertizing discourse by a chain of marketing “concepts” composed of the following elements: ideal beauty → adjustment → individual personality → democracy of taste → freedom of choice and expression → the experience of sensuality → the erotic.
  8. This chain of marketing concepts expressive of the “extra-economic” free time of a working “Amalia-type” would, we have suggested, itself be part of that wider continuum joining work and “play”.
  9. Finally, we have alluded to the fact that such continuum in advertizing discourse would itself be characterized by a variety of internal ideological tensions. These tensions would be reflective of real contradictions riddling the “lifeworld” of the “Amalia-type” – one may identify at least three types of contradictions: First, there could be a contradictious relationship between work and “eros” as such, these two spheres of life being, in themselves, of a different nature in whatever mode of production. Second, there would be contradictions within the terrain of work itself, given “despotic” and/or over-exploitative practices on the part of Greek employers. And thirdly, there could be contradictions within the terrain of “eros” itself, since such terrain could encompass a variety of experiences ranging from the “authentically” sensual, to manifestations of “cheap” sensuality, and could even extend to manifestations of sexual “perversion”. But it is important to note here that it would be advertizing discourse itself that would attempt to resolve all such tensions and contradictions. More accurately, it would be the specifically “adjustive” type of advertizing discourse that would often reflect such an attempt.

That, more or less, is the type of advertizing that we have been discussing in this section of our work. But such “adjustive” function of advertizing discourse on themes related to work and “eros” was, of course, just one dimension of the variety of discourse produced by the advertizing industry as a whole. To appreciate the “adjustive” type of advertizing, one needs to contrast it to the highly “provocative” type of advertizing discourse churned out on themes of work and, especially so, with respect to “eros”. Here, the “provocative” nature of such advertizing could take on a very specific form – that of “sexism”. Simply for purposes of contrast, then, we shall have to briefly consider the issue of “sexism” in advertizing discourse at the time.

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