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SIEF2013 11th Congress: Tartu, Estonia.
30 June - 4 July, 2013

SIEF2013: Circulation

Tartu, Estonia; 30th June - 4th July


Good life in times of change

Location Ülikooli 16, 215
Date and Start Time 02 July, 2013 at 14:45


Klavs Sedlenieks (Riga Stradins University) email
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Short Abstract

This panel will explore how the circulation of old and new images and identities interacts with the experience of change in various contexts, paying particular attention to the circulation of ideas about good life and proper ways of behaviour

Long Abstract

While change and crisis (whether due to external political or economic processes or due to some actions of the actor him/herself) has the potential of destroying the meaning of human life, people often find ways how to bring that meaning back by inventing new approaches or re-evaluating the ones that already existed before. This panel will explore how the circulation of old and new images and identities interacts with the experience of change in various contexts, paying particular attention to the circulation of the images of good life and proper ways of behaviour. We invite the participants to explore the processes of identity-building by means of images that are taken from stories of various kinds (starting from legislation and ending with oral histories and folklore) and how these stories, images and ideas help overcome the problems of current changes and transitions. At the same time it is obvious that this process produces not only positive experiences. Identity-building can also trigger behaviours that are far from rational or adaptive in particular circumstances. Therefore the panel will also explore how the images of good or proper life and ideal human relationships may hinder the ability to survive in changing circumstances. The obvious candidates for such "laboratory of change" are the countries that in the previous century experienced socialism and in this century went through post-socialist transitions. However, similar - and no less thorough - changes have been experienced also elsewhere.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Discursive (re)construction of national identity and citizenship: a comparative study of Canadian and Estonian constitutions and civil rights documents and subjective attitudes of students

Author: Zanna Razinkova  email

Short Abstract

The given paper studies how the concept of national identity is formulated in the fundamental laws of the countries studied (Canada and Estonia): Constitution and civil rights documents and in the subjective attitudes of the students at the state universities.

Long Abstract

The given paper studies how the concept of national identity is formulated in the fundamental laws of the countries studied (Canada and Estonia): Constitution and civil rights documents and in the subjective attitudes of the students at the state universities. The work compares the discursive definitions of national identity to find out to what extent different countries rely on ethnic and/or political definitions of national identity. Secondly, the research introduces the 'subjective' aspects of the discursive definition of nationality and on the basis of the qualitative interviews determines informants' attitudes and interpretations. The current study will gradually examine whether there is a disparity between the formulations of national identity as laid down by the institutions in the fundamental documents of the countries and the individual attitudes of the people living in these countries.

Documents and subjective attitudes are analysed on the basis of the context sensitive Discourse Historical Approach developed by Martin Reisigl and Ruth Wodak et al. (2001, 2009) incorporating knowledge about the history of the discursive event as well as social and political fields where it takes place. Two different corpuses are studied, among others, in terms of referential strategies including: collectivisation, spatialisation, originalisation, culturalisation, politicisation. These strategies are employed to create collective images of different identities and the ideas about the existing order within a particular country. In other words, they create and supply information about how the people are defined and what the general sociopolitical atmosphere in a particular country is.

Drinking to freedom: old and new national stereotypes in contemporary Estonian discourse about alcohol

Author: Riina Raudne (Health Estonia Foundation)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores alcohol drinking and its related discourses as arenas on which interpretations of history, memory and national identity are negotiated, regenerated and reinforced. Using the Estonian example, we show how these narratives can ground a particular drinking culture.

Long Abstract

Alcohol drinking is a potent social practice and an arena for informal identity making. Countries differ by drinking cultures, which are anchored in meaningful local traditions and narratives. Drinking together can serve in socializing group members into particular, sometimes hidden aspects of collective (national) identities. Drinking can also become an expression of that identity, and can then remain a potent justification for a particular style of drinking. This paper draws on a qualitative study about alcohol's role in communal life in Tallinn, capital of Estonia. In eight group discussions with men and women in their workplaces, participants pointed at how much of the culture of drinking is construed and explanatory frameworks formulated around the histories of political and social oppression both in the 20th century and well before. Such reasons were described, especially among men, as playing a major part in restrained national temperament that can fully express and experience both symbolic and personal/psychological freedom only with the help of alcohol. Self-perceived portrait of sober Estonians as reserved was juxtaposed with the hedonistic solution that alcohol offered to such stereotypical national character; yet also construed the drinking practices as more rational than that of the stereotypical other, the Russians. These findings may offer some insight into the cultural mechanisms of persisting public health burden posed by harmful pattern of alcohol use in Estonia and in other post-Soviet settings, especially among men.

Family house as a dream in post-socialist suburban milieu: consumer ideas about a good life and threats to their implementation

Author: Gunta Darbina (Riga Stradins University)  email

Short Abstract

The paper looks at the ways in which opportunities that opened in the postsocialist period intensified desires and prompted many individuals to adopt high level consumption practices. The dream of owning a private house, however, was bound to be challenged.

Long Abstract

An active property development in Pieriga, the suburban zone surrounding the capital city of Latvia, Riga, began at the turn of the new millennium. This paper aims to find out what desires, dreams and ideas of good life Latvians associated with acquiring a private house in the suburb.

Acquisition of a private house in the suburb is here regarded as a model that is being implemented through a series of social practices, including consumption practices. Family desire for a 'normal life' and aspirations to be included in the middle class have called forth a dream of a respectable home.

In summer 2011 and 2012 the author visited a number of households in Pierīga and conducted semi-structured interviews with their dwellers. "Private house as an emotional and vital necessity" emerges as a central category in the analysis of interview data. 'The house' (māja) refers both to a building and to an emotionally charged place shared by family members. At times the same concept refers to a household of an extended family; the narratives about such a form of residency, however, bear a mark of disappointment. Another category, "Memories motivating quest for an appropriate house", reveals how thoughts, values and behaviour have changed in the course of time. Attempts to reclaim one's self-respect once humbled by the socialist state have given rise to a new, nearly irresistable desire to consume. Moreover, having confronted failures and disappointments they admit that emotions rather than knowledge have dominated their consumption practice.

"Respect and discipline are required by all": the Commission for the Acquisition of Furniture (Portugal, 1940-1980).

Author: João Paulo Martins (Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade Técnica de Lisboa)  email

Short Abstract

This paper focuses on the role played by the Commission for the Acquisition of Furniture (Portugal, 1940-1980) in the processes of construction and official dissemination of a collective identity for Portugal, through the country's public buildings and their interiors in particular.

Long Abstract

Au sein du Ministère des Travaux Publics et des Communications du Portugal, a été créé en 1940 Commission pour l'Acquisition de Mobilier (CAM) dans le cadre de la Direction-Générale des Bâtiments et Monuments Nationaux, qui fonctionnerait sans interruption jusqu'en 1980, ayant comme but la conduction des tâches concernant l'acquisition de mobilier destiné aux bâtiments publics du pays.

La création de la CAM a signifié l'activation d'objectifs et de critères d'action, un ensemble coordonné de procédures administratives et de nouveaux chaines pour l'exercice du pouvoir qui ont façonné le paysage intérieur des bâtiments représentatifs de l'état à différentes échelles et programmes fonctionnels dans toute l'extension du territoire national, établissant normes de fonctionnalité et d'orientation esthétique avec une charge idéologique assez claire.

Nous nous proposons présenter une lecture du discours construit par l'Etat portugais à travers la mise en forme de ces espaces d'interaction avec les citoyens et de représentation de l'identité collective, au cour d'une période qui coïncide largement avec le régime dictatorial de Oliveira Salazar, mené a partir de l'étude panoramique des archives et de la performance de la CAM qui nous sommes en train de faire. Cette lecture est basée sur la reconnaissance des liens entre ces meubles et l'architecture qu'ils habitent, sur la relation établie avec certains modèles de référence internationaux (leur adoption ou leur rejet), sur la demande, la création et la diffusion de modèles et d'environnements qui, croyait-on, récupéraient les traditions du pays et/ou (re)proposaient les identités jugées les plus appropriées dans chaque cas particulier.

From small farms to urban factories: the cultural processes of the structural mobility in Finland 1945-1970

Author: Eija Stark (University of Helsinki)  email

Short Abstract

The paper will explore the Finnish post-war mobilization from the rural primary production to the urban service industry discussing the changes of lifestyle and cultural meaning-making in it. The perspective is on the views of the migrated people whose personal narratives I have analysed.

Long Abstract

There have been enormous changes in the lives of the people in Finland since the World War II. Until the 1950s, most of the Finns lived in rural areas and a majority of them earned their living primarily from agriculture and forestry. Migration to the towns and urban areas proceeded rapidly from the 1960s onwards since the means of rural earning could not give livelihood for all. In the personal narratives of the Finns who moved from the rural farms to the urban milieu, from the farm work to the offices, mobility was described as non-privileged and as out of necessity. In the small rural communities, people knew one another's social background and this made social stigmatizing and control easy. However, urban lifestyle, with its fundament elements such as factory work, living in block of flats, monetary economy and mass consumption, did not bring down the old, rural based command hierarchies. For example, the same old master - subservient -motifs are found in the personal narratives that are narrated in the urban milieu decades after the rural way of life. In the narratives of the migrated common people, the difference between the old poor and the current wealthy can be interpreted as the Tönniesian dichotomy Gemeinschaft - Gesellschaft. In the first people feel solidarity and informality towards social life, the latter representing an impersonal society, which with the aid of technologies, supervises individuals without a personal contact.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.