Reforming the Present, Planning for the Future: Prognosis, Generational Shifts and the Making of Housing Policies for Young Workers in the 1970s Romania

Mara Marginean, Romanian Academy. George Baritiu Institute of History

By the late 1960s, the growing global expertise on youth, labor, and housing emerged as a central field of intellectual and political interest for the Romanian socialist state. While transfers of knowledge and professional interactions in various political and institutional settings have recently become essential dimensions of a renewed interest in late socialist attempts to “go global”, little is known about how East-European states employed this emerging expertise to tackle domestic social and economic shifts, reform socialism, and even less in the intertwined domains of youth, labor, and housing policies. This paper explores the Romanian state’s public housing programs for young workers in the 1970s as part of a transnational trend of making the “youth” into an object of professionalized knowledge and policy. It aims to show how the state’s medium and long-term strategies of territorializing industrial production and its social infrastructure mobilized various social prognosis methodologies. First, it highlights the emergence of an area of expertise on prognosis about social and economic implications of generational shifts, and thus it stresses how local actors, practices and processes have become involved in the creation, dissemination and transformation of a transnational body of knowledge about youth’s medium and long-term integration into the socialist project. Second, it assesses the bureaucratic stakes of the “scientization of the social” by looking at how such knowledge has been transposed into housing policies for young workers. Moreover, I aim to answer two questions. First, how did a new political imaginary of youth and its investigation in various micro-scientific contexts help the Romanian state rearticulate its long-term politics of urban development in conjunction with its economic policies? Second, how was this scientific imaginary linked to the emergence of “youth” as an issue of knowledge, policy, and expertise at broader European and transnational level after 1968?

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 41. Moral Commitments and Political Action