A “house with picket fences” and other forms of escape of the middle class

Bogdan Iancu

In a conversation with Vlad Odobescu for Scena9 in which I elaborated on the research agenda of our project, I also mentioned Vama Veche hit – “Vreau sa ajung la radio” . Launched ten years ago, this is one of the few local works of popular culture in which the defining characteristics of the middle class are presented (the notable exceptions are Radu Muntean’s films Boogie și Marți după Crăciun ). The song, I explained in this conversation, speaks about the next dream, which crystallizes once the credit card made possible the older dreams (e.g. espresso machine, flat screen TV). This is the dream of escaping from the city and living an autonomous life in the proximity of nature. This is the dream of a “house with picket fences”, an expression that a TV commercial made famous in Romania). The song calls this a dream that got smashed in thousands of installments. In the recent years, articles about how these housing aspirations and projects can be undermined have started to appear (one example can be found here.

To return to the post-material dreams, the character that the song speaks about is not a kid who wants to get to the radio, as we may believe, but an adult who wants to escape from the routine, a while colour worker who dreams of a creative job, next to his girlfriend who wants to become an actress. We encountered these representations of cultural capital during our research as well, however in an actualized form, from attending courses in humanities and cultural studies that different foundations and universities offer to taking tango lessons and enrolling in training programs in traditional crafts (pottery, sculpture, gastronomy). This inventory has recently been supplemented with investments in forms of economy (sporting) of experience: subscriptions to flourishing riding centers or the passion for yachting. I will discuss  the “escapes” that tourism provides during the holiday season in a future blog post.

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