Identity at Crossroads: An Insight into Romania
Sociology University of Leipzig Leipzig, Germany
The question of identity formation has been on the agenda of social sciences for a long time. In my presentation, I intend to shed a new light on the "problem of identity" by approaching it within the triangle of self-knowledge, emotions, and self-deception.
I will look at Romania during the Communist period, and in particular I will focus on the consequences of the Decree Law 770 that the Ceausescu regime introduced in 1966. This Law aimed at redressing the ongoing demographic problem by denying women the right to abortions, in a context that blocked access to quasi all means of contraception. It proved to have devastating consequences for the population, with sky-rocketing maternal and infant mortality rates, as well as increasing rates of abandoned children.
I will explore the manner in which both women and men build accounts and narratives in order to re-cover from the painful experiences. These accounts and narratives reveal a gap between self-knowledge and dealing with a traumatic past; and the quest for a self-deceiving new identity, that allows emotional serenity. People resort to "emotion work" that entails active efforts to make sense and reconstruct genuine emotions in line with prevalent emotion ideologies or socio-cultural context. This process encompasses a self-reinforcing mechanism that nurtures a "conspiracy of silence" since people tend to actively deny the importance and the effects of the Decree by resorting to various strategies, such as self-glorification, defence and offence, moral blackmail, redefinition, relativization, trivialization, evasion, reduction to absurd. By doing this, they create a protective shield against facing their authentic emotions.