The situation is like this. The government owns all the big businesses (utilities, large manufacturers etc) but allows family firms in order for economy to not completely grind to halt as the last collectivization brought famine and threatened revolt against the government.

The definition of family is nuclear family plus other family members if they live in a same household (grandparents, aunts/uncles). The government treats the private firms as necessary evil, there's no structures to support them like Small Business Administration and it favors states businesses as important employers are pure to party ideology.

I expect lot's of small and inefficient companies, probably good enough for farms, restaurants or corner stores but without enough clout to compete with large state owned businesses. Technology level is mid 20th century to contemporary days.

The country is small with population of several millions, during the socialist revolution it seized local businesses , nationalized the foreign companies (banks, railways). In the beginning it tried pure socialism experiment which brought famine and allmost brought the government down.N now they are satisfied with keeping commanding heights of the economy

What would be the culture of the families that would prosper in a socialist country which only allows family owned and operated firms to be run as private enterprises?

I need some ideas about the culture of those barely tolerated entrepreneurs. Things like size of the family, work ethic, thrift, honesty etc. Please note that the socialism is official dogma and proprietors and looked down upon somewhat like drug dealers & smugglers are looked down. They have the money but they don't have respect.

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    $\begingroup$ In a communist/socialist economy you need to define "prosper", are there consumer good they may want (xbox/washing machine/fridge or the like) or just feed, house, clothe themselves in relative comfort. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    May 24, 2017 at 10:29
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    $\begingroup$ Please, edit your question to provide clarifications. Don't leave them in comments where they are easily overlooked. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    May 24, 2017 at 11:57
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    $\begingroup$ Whenever I talked to people that lived through Socialism without becoming a Socialist, they always said basically the same thing: If you want to get someplace, you need friends high up in the party or be high up in the party yourself. Any reason why this isn't simply the answer - if one just listls all the implications (which I think is not even needed)? $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    May 24, 2017 at 12:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Raditz_35, because we're all idealists at heart and dream of a socialism that actually works for the people $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    May 24, 2017 at 12:39
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    $\begingroup$ I really appreciate you liking my answer but I dare say I'm not the only one with an idea, if you accept an answer you'll probably find people less likely to post their ideas - maybe ideas you like even more than mine. You should normally wait a while before accepting and answer - even if it seems to be one you want - just to see who else might pop up with something. Just a bit of advice (and don't worry, I won't mind if you take the tick away for a while). Glad you liked what I thought though :) $\endgroup$
    – FreeElk
    May 24, 2017 at 14:04

4 Answers 4


The government can't fill every niche

Sure you'll have the basics: Food, building, entertainment, clothing etc which can be thought of and tracked by the government but then you'll have some entrepreneurs finding gaps in the market. A stronger material for protective boots, a new method of chocolate making, hand-made furniture from reclaimed wood...that sort of thing. These family businesses will all aim to fill some gap like that, they will have to be something new and better.

Now if I were the government I would, instead of ostracising these innovative businesses, have a level slightly higher to promote these businesses to. A government endorsed idea, the company gets some benefits and securities whilst giving up a little power. Their products can be made on government production lines, be spread throughout the country and the family can sit back a little.

You might be thinking that the government should just steal the idea and give the family no credit but this would give the families no incentive to create and every incentive not to give up their secrets. This way there is a form of pride in having made something the government wants - you are a family who has directly benefited the country. Of course to most this is a pipe dream, a waste of time - time you could be giving to the country and community in other ways.

So you would get layers of business, government run ones, government endorsed ones (and probably layers within that) and purely family owned businesses.

Within the bottom two layers are competition. Family owned businesses will steal ideas from each other, try to promote themselves above competition to be noticed by the government - there would be no protection of their ideas (in fact if the government sees two companies with exactly the same idea they treat it as public property). This layer would be brutally competitive and, around this, would spring businesses in protection if your intellectual property, protection of your assets and businesses offering to infiltrate, spy and steal from your competitors.

The second layer would still be competitive, if your idea was close to another (perhaps someone created a stronger material for boots on building sites but someone else created a better rope) if you can improve your product to do the job of both then the other family will lose their status and your product will gain the resources which went into producing theirs. Again you will see, though slightly more elaborate due to the increased funds, espionage and protection businesses springing up. Of course this level has some degree of government protection, if you attack a government production line it is tantamount to treason. So the attacks are more tactical, the threats veiled and dealings with one another are polite. Inviting your worst enemy to dinner, serving them the finest food and exchanging small talk whilst you plan how best to discredit and steal from their family (or at least prevent them from doing so to you).

I could go on but I feel as though I'm going to end up writing a story if I do ^^; hope those ideas helped.


Well, I guess that the nuclear family would be the first concept to go away. Say you have this family-run company making apple pies, but only you, your wife and your three children aren't enough to keep the business going, so you could adopt into the family more people to help with the work.

Young people wanting to create their own business will find ways to marry/adopt each other so they can get the bonus the government gives to these business.


I've read about an interesting real world experiment where a socialist government gave land, tools & seeds to families who settled in a newly irrigated area (will try to find the link). They all started with as equal position as practically possible. Same land, same tools, same seeds, same knowledge or lack of it. Within a decade there were landless families who lost their titles, middle class and well-off families. The stratification re-asserted itself very quickly. The family who prospered were described as industrious, stingy, had many healthy children, were to delay the gratification and many actually were quite interested to try modern seeds and diversify. Among those who failed and lost their land, the reasons varied between each family from poor work ethic, bad habits (alcohol, gambling), to disasters like death or poor health of family member.

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way

You can expect the prosperity of industrious, clannish, entrepreneurial families. Many times from despised minorities if they exist in your country. Since they can't find government work. Or use poor peasants who try to settle in the cities and get looked down upon from the urbanites. If you want to focus on the culture I would suggest to read about middleman minorities (Jews, Chinese, Asians) and since the government barely tolerates they would have to use same traits to prosper in hostile environment.


Please note that the socialism is official dogma and proprietors and looked down upon somewhat like drug dealers & smugglers are looked down. They have the money but they don't have respect.

That doesn't make any sense. Criminals are looked down because they are dangerous people, usually violent and untrustworthy. A suspicious-looking badly shaved guy with scars and tattoos selling pills on the backseat of a car? That's looking down. The CEO of the Big Pharma corporation who makes those pills? He's a very respected man.

If private familiar enterprises are legit, there's nothing to frown upon, except maybe tradition, and that will change quickly if the enterprise is profitable. If you have money, you can buy many things. Respect is one of them, but it usually comes for free. We respect, revere and even idolise completely psychopathic people just because they're rich.

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    $\begingroup$ According to studies done in my country (before communism collapse) it actually makes sense. People if asked concerning prestige of job were treating tiny business owners near prostitutes. Nevertheless, when asked whether they would mind their kid to be businessperson, then they did not mind... Nowadays the same logic is applied to politicians. $\endgroup$
    – Shadow1024
    May 25, 2017 at 12:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Shadow1024 This sounds like nothing but thinly disguised envy. $\endgroup$
    – Rekesoft
    May 25, 2017 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ Sure, but propaganda could perfectly use this envy. And money and not much respect was actually achievable in RL. $\endgroup$
    – Shadow1024
    May 25, 2017 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Rekesoft In former socialist countries children were indoctrinated to be ashame if their parents were proprietors. My friend told how me how her father repair side business allowed them to buy many things that were considered luxury but she was always ashamed to tell her friends what he's doing. Cultures are different. In many traditional cultures if you have money you are required to care about your poor relatives. $\endgroup$
    – famaz
    May 25, 2017 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ The society described sounds like it would reward doing things for the good of the country. Private businesses would be seen as selfish endeavors. I think that would get them looked down upon. Sure money might have an effect but I don't think the businesses who are just starting out will get a lot of respect. $\endgroup$ May 26, 2017 at 16:09

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