"Why I am not leaving the country": middle-class Romanians and their virtuous immobility
(University of Bucharest)
Paper short abstract:
This paper analyses middle-class Romanians' reasons to remain in a country where dysfunctionalities and injustices jeopardise their aspirations to live a 'good life', materially and morally. The analysis reveals the tensed juxtapositions of aspirations and obligations in the decisions not to leave.
Paper long abstract:
In the recent years, middle-class Romanians have taken the streets to protest the incompetence, malevolence and corruption of the ruling party. The dysfunctionalities, injustices and illegalities to which they have so vociferously begun to react negatively impact on theirs and their children's possibilities of living a 'good life' in this country, now or in the future. In this context, the notion of 'good life' refers to more than hedonic happiness and material success, being close to Aristotle's notion of eudaemonia and indicating wellbeing, dignity, fairness and fulfilment, in brief, a meaningful existence (Fischer 2014). These dysfunctionalities, injustices and illegalities might become - and have indeed become for many middle-class Romanians - reasons to leave the country. This paper focuses on those who choose to remain in the country and on their discourses about the values and virtues of immobility. Guided by Das's (2010, 2012) argument that the central concept of ethical life is the care for the other, the analysis discerns in these discourses, and in the practicalities of the lives of those who utter them, an attempt to balance out aspirations of the self and obligations towards the other. These middle-class Romanians not only explain their reasons to stay to a curious or concerned audience, the anthropologist included, but also try to motivate similarly classed others to join them in their efforts to do good and in their attempts to change people and society for the better.
Virtuous (im)mobilities: the good life and its discrepancies