Der Pionier. Konstruktionen von Arbeit und Männlichkeiten in der deutschsprachigen Zeitung der Firma Baťa 1935-1939

Theresa Adamski

Abstract


The article deals with the concepts of work and masculinities proposed by the German
language newspaper Der Pionier. The newspaper was published by the Baťa shoe company
in Czechoslovakia from 1935 to 1938. This was also the period when the company
had its greatest international impact. Not only did Baťa expand to other industrial branches
during that time, but also company towns were built in several continents.
Baťa’s ideas on gender were based on discourses about national identity, American ideals
of the family and the promise of social advancement. But they were, as the article argues,
also strongly linked to a gendered notion of work. Men and women were assigned
complementary spheres of life. Gender hierarchies were not only promoted by the Baťa
media but also realized with the help of the company’s gendered policies. Wage work was
to be men’s responsibility while consumption, household and family work should be performed
by women. The desire to work, whether outside or inside the home, should be innate
in every human being.
Der Pionier imagined the ideal male worker as an entrepreneur, laying the responsibility
of his own and his family’s fate as well as the future of the Czechoslovak society in the
hands of the individual. The biography of the company’s founder Tomáš Baťa was used as
a model career: it tells the story of a poor artisan who became the boss of an international
enterprise. Der Pionier paired the ideal of the entrepreneurial worker with images of
working class culture and Americanism. The article shows how these masculinities were
designed in relation to femininities and considers Baťa’s ideas within the context of gender
and work in Czechoslovakia as well as the role of the Baťa Company in Czechoslovak
politics.