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Accepted Paper:

Suburbanisation and middle-class formation in the post-socialist city  
Gabriel Troc (Babes-Bolyai University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper investigates the post-socialist class divide through the urban changes in the second-largest Romanian city, Cluj-Napoca. Two newly-built neighbourhoods are seen as loci where the ideologically fostered "middle class" ideal is taking a material shape.

Paper long abstract:

Seen as landmarks of social change in post-socialism (NedoviĆ BudiĆ: 2006), the newly-built neighbourhoods speak mostly about the class separation process, specific for a capitalist society under formation, with all the associated processes: residential segregation, land appropriation, symbolic and material bordering etc. Unlike the emergence of the american suburbia, made possible by governmental investments and technological innovation (Baldassare:1992), the raising of the post-socialist neighbourhood is bounded both by previous socialist infrastructures (Szelnyi, 1996) and by the recent Eastern European extreme neoliberal deregulations. What has resulted is a very particular formation which links together low-quality habitation spaces with highly (symbolically and materially) invested habitation units. Their inhabitants had projected here their aspiration for a "normal and decent life", as they imagined it during socialism (Fehérváry:2002), but also new ideals, new tastes, and new manifestations of the self, which emerged in the time of the "transition". Based on ethnographic investigations in two neighbourhoods from Cluj-Napoca, the paper analyses the process of becoming an inhabitant of these new spaces (with all its phases: planning, buying or building, decorating, inhabiting) and the matching process of the emergence of a subjective and objective status/class situation which can be deemed as specific and distinctive for post-socialist social stratification.

Panel P113
Middle-class subjectivities and livelihoods in post-socialist Europe
  Session 1