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From Cow to Cradle. Mutations and Meanings of Rural Household in Post-socialism

Vintilă Mihăilescu
  • National School of Political and Administrate Sciences
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Published Online: 2015-05-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/irsr-2011-0010


This article points at the path to modernization of the recent Romanian households, meaning, in this case, the out ruling of productive activities from the household’s space and time (Max Weber). A brief social history of the household (gospodărie) tries to trace back this longue durée process focusing on the shift in the work ethics from a normative model of the ‘good householder’ to an ‘aesthetisation of life’ (Max Weber) and symbolic emancipation. The main interest of the article concerns the relatively new phenomenon of ‘rustic houses’, which is less an architectural, than a lifestyle choice. Contrasted with the former ‘pride houses’ that spread all over the Romanian villages in the last decade, the peasant rustic taste seems to express a kind of return to the local and the past articulated with a modern concern for comfort and appearance: ‘rustic is traditional and modern in the same time!’ – claimed one of our informants. Rusticity thus becomes a (post)modern simulacrum of genuine peasant life. The final part of the article tries to transcend this mere semantic overview in search of its deeper and subjective motivations. In doing so, the article is approaching these recent rural households in the terms of Axel Honneth’s social recognition theory. It also suggests that, in this respect, the rustic taste expresses an existential search for authenticity.

Keywords: domestic; rustic; modernity; simulacrum; social recognition; authenticity

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About the article

Published Online: 2015-05-04

Published in Print: 2011-06-01

Citation Information: International Review of Social Research, ISSN (Online) 2069-8534, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/irsr-2011-0010.

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© Vintilă Mihăilescu. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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