Accepted paper:

A self-made panacea: deconstructing the perfect self in personal development practices in Bucharest


Elena Trifan (National University of Political Studies and Public Administration Bucharest)

Paper short abstract:

Personal development narratives are constructed around the hope that almost anything is possible and within reach. This paper explores the promises of personal development practices and the construction of the imagery of the perfect self.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I will explore the meaning of personal development practices, having the starting point the way they are promoted: as a mean of resolving all types of crises, from social crises, due to unemployment and low productivity to personal crises, due to unhappiness or unfulfillment. Personal development is both a purpose and a process in which the individual engages in hope of becoming a better version of him or herself. From private kindergartens, student NGOs, trainings offered by employers to peer-pressure and institutional pressure, personal development is increasingly present in the working environments of Bucharest. The providers are promoting personal development as a mean of attaining better jobs, better relationships, and better lives through the process of working at one's self. It is a quest for the perfect human being capable of creating the perfect world and resolving all the problems with his/her bare self. Personal development directs people towards extreme individual accountability, as they are the only ones who can improve themselves and guide the course of their lives, responsible of their own failure and success.

panel Nar008
Narratives on agency, well-being and everyday lives in real and imagined societies