Making and Becoming ‘New (Wo)Men’

Baťa produced affordable shoes and new (wo)men.

Zahlreiche Menschen strömen in das Gelände der Bat´a Fabrik mit mehreren unterschiedlichen Gebäuden. Postkarte aus den 1930ern.
Hlavní brána závodů Baťa Zlin The main factory entrance to the Bata factories 1930s published by Grafo Cuda Holica

Rationalisation, Subjectivation, and Materiality in the Industrial Town of Zlín and Bat´a Company, 1920–1950

After World War I, the Czechoslovak shoe company built a rationalised factory and brought forward a social experiment: Unskilled workers were to become efficient and loyal employees, leading a life completely different from that of their compatriots.

But who was qualified to work for Baťa? How were the people trained? And how did the company measure their efficiency? The research project enquires into these and several other questions of human differentiation. It analyses how the attempt to form efficient employees created a society of its own, sharply marked off from the surrounding area, strictly supervised and highly disciplined.

Vorort in der Stadt Bat´a. die Postkarte aus den 1930ern zeigt eine Siedlung mit zahlreichen identischen, schmucklosen Häusern, die jeweils für mehrere Familien ausgelegt sind und einen großen Garten haben.
Baťově čtvrť Bata suburb after building early 1930s (postcard).

As a social experiment, Baťa stands for the family resemblance of utopian social engineering in the first half of the 20th century. Zlín became a modernist company town, renowned around the world. The company’s social engineering continued throughout Czechoslovakia’s political crisis and the German occupation and eventually came to influence state socialism.