The meaning of home in Romania: views from urban owner–occupiers

Abstract

The post-communist privatisation of state flats to sitting tenants has transformed Romania into a nation of homeowners; yet its popularity appears perplexing given the poor quality of the stock and disappointing, given flat-owners’ subsequent lack of action regarding home improvement. Conversely, self-builders’ proactive agency moved them up the housing ladder. While this striking contrast draws attention to various structural conditions, which have constrained the former and enabled the latter, it also raises intriguing questions on residents’ meanings of home. By interrogating 48 homeowners’ narratives, this paper sustains the multilayered and multi-scalar meanings of home, which intertwine the socio-cultural territory of family and nation; the physical frame of one room or several dwellings; the emotional domain of object-memories; and the ontological realm epitomised by something as minimal as ‘my bed’. Findings demonstrate that flat-owners and self-builders do not significantly differ in their meanings of home but detached houses rather than flats facilitate more fully their appropriation.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    37 % of the total housing stock and 72 % of urban dwellings.

  2. 2.

    Conversely, participants did not use metaphors to convey meanings of home. Most popular Romanian home’ metaphors are variations of ‘No place is like home’ and ‘The seven years from home’ (in terms of home-acquired learning).

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Acknowledgments

I am grateful to the two anonymous referees for their thoughtful comments and to Mr. Mike Birch who as always patiently proofread my manuscript.

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Correspondence to Adriana Mihaela Soaita.

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Soaita, A.M. The meaning of home in Romania: views from urban owner–occupiers. J Hous and the Built Environ 30, 69–85 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10901-014-9396-3

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Keywords

  • Communist housing
  • Eastern Europe
  • Homeownership
  • Housing privatisation
  • Meanings of home
  • Romania