Accepted Paper:

How to become a better version of yourself: (re)construction of self-developed individuals in Bucharest  
Elena Trifan (National University of Political Studies and Public Administration Bucharest)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I will explain the relation between the inhabitants of Bucharest and the market economy observing the practices of personal development and how the influence the everyday life.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I explore personal development practices in Bucharest. The starting point of this analysis is the relationship between them and the changes that occurred at economical level in Romania. The global shift from the industrial to the post-industrial economies and regional transition from a centrally planned economy to a market-based one have introduced new expectations from employees. Personal development products are advertised as suitable solutions for accomplishing these new expectations, focusing especially on issues of flexibility personal and professional. Personal development helps with the (re)construction of a person in order to have a well-paid job in renowned company, social mobility, or create a thriving business, as well as gain a fulfilling relationship with a significant others. Therefore, it can help overcome new social impediments such as lack of communication skills, troubles finding the inner self or a positive attitude.

Through personal development are reiterated neoliberal values, the individuals are solely responsible for their own fate and the capable of improving it. Therefore, they becomes aware of their responsibility and thus are able to manipulate their entire universe according to their needs. This paper explores the social impact of these practices and their values on the participants and their social environment, while pursuing the relationship between citizens, free market and the neoliberal state.

The paper is part of an ongoing research begun in 2010 with observation of the coaching scenery in Bucharest and an ethnography of a personal development group for youngsters, and continues with mapping the other actors.

Panel P043
Re-embedding the market economy: innovation, legacy, and techniques of intimate sociality after socialism