For more on everyday life during communism, see Adrian Neculau, Viaţa cotidiană în comunism (Iaşi: Editura Polirom, ). 6. Dennis Deletant, România sub. Adrian Neculau, Viaţa Cotidiană în Comunism (Iaşi, Romania: Polirom, ), The translation is my own. Cernat continues, “Families with many children. Dan Lungu, “Avatarurile cozii in socialismul de tip sovietic” in Viaţa Cotidiana in Comunism, ed. Adrian Neculau (Iasi: Polirom, ), Stela, interview.

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The Communist Crisis in Romania 2.

Perceptions of Social Security in Communist Romania | Zeithistorische Forschungen

A Sense of Social Security? The Communist Crisis in Romania. In Romania was the last monarchy within the new Soviet sphere of influence. However, on 30 December King Michael was forced to abdicate.

Viaţa cotidiană în comunism

During the next decade, two other phenomena, glasnost and perestroika, brought new significant changes to Eastern Europe. However, in this changing socialist world, the Communist regime in Romania remained unreformed.

Consequently, after a few years, Romania cottidiana a dramatic shortage of consumer goods, and, inlarge-scale food rationing was reintroduced — after more than twenty years. Explaining the longevity of Communism in Romania. Considering this crisis, after many intellectuals raised the question of how to understand and explain why Romanians did not rebel against the regime earlier, comunsim Romanians tolerated Communism for so long without any significant anti-Communist reaction.

For example, Paul Goma a writer and famous Romanian dissident of the s accused Romanian society as a whole for not having supported the actions jeculau the few who openly opposed the Communist regime in the comuniism and s. Where was the rest of Romanian society in when the miners rioted in Valea Jiului, Goma asked in a newspaper article in Where were the remaining Romanians then? They had no national consciousness.

Referring to passivity in one way or another is the most common answer to the question of how to explain the longevity of Communism in Romania. However, in my opinion, this is a passionate, subjective and non-scientific approach which needs to be balanced by further research, both extensive and comparative.

Romanian sociologists have only recently started to study Romanian Communist society, tangentially also addressing explanations for the longevity of Communism in Romania. Why were the elites unable to organize Romanian society into an anti-Communist movement?

And why was civil society so weak in Communist Romania? Within this social and sociological perspective on Romanian Communism, I propose a new angle from which to explain the longevity of the Communist system in Romania: Although I advance the thesis that promising and providing social security for the Romanian population helped the Communist system survive longer in Romania, I do not argue that this is the only, or even the main explanation for this phenomenon.

In my opinion, the Romanian anti-Communist resistance and opposition were significant, but less visible within the general system of ferocious oppression. However, today it has attained a universal and non-discriminatory meaning, and social security programs are generally designed to provide social protection to the entire population against different social and economic risks.

Initially, social security programs were intended to offer protection to different disadvantaged social groups, but after the Second World War, the meaning of the concept widened. Whereas before the war social security plans dealt with individual problems sickness, old age, unemploymentafter the war they were designed to provide adequate protection to the entire population against the whole range of risks of the economic system.

The old view on social security dealt with problems of minority groups, i. It is therefore a flexible and powerful tool in the hands of those who wield political power. AfterEast-European countries demonstrated that it is possible to adopt welfare-state policies without being a democracy.

In socialist states, social policies had various functions. It was a price the nomenklatura had to pay to pacify the citizens who suffered from the double burden of economic irrationality including welfare waste and political oppression.


Studies that briefly address this topic are in most cases concerned with the trajectory of welfare state development in post-Communist European states generally.

Only within this context is the subject of the Romanian Communist welfare state and its social policies briefly analyzed or described. How were Communist social policies perceived by the population? What did the consequences look like? Did those policies create a sense of social security and, if so, when, how and with what sorts of implications? Is there a connection between the end of the Communist system in Romania and the fact that by the end of the s Romanians had no sense of social security at all?

With this paper, I will outline my hypothesis concerning the role of social perceptions of social security in explaining the longevity of vkata Communist system in Romania. The Romanian welfare regime focused on assuring an optimal and relatively homogenous level of welfare to all citizens through subsidised cotidiiana services and free access to education, health and housing.

Thus, welfare policy was more or less a mix between universal social benefits and special benefits, related either to employment in general or to the employment in one particular economic area. Besides the institutions at the central level such as the Ministry of Laborenterprises and trade unions were formally involved in managing the distribution of social services or family benefits depending on political decisions.

After a few decades of relative social and economic improvements, in the economic and social living conditions of the majority of Romanians started to decline. People were told that they lived the best possible life, but in reality their standard of living was decreasing every day.

How did people react to this? Could one conclude that as long as people felt socially safe they put up with Communism, and when they lost their sense of social security they concluded with it? Whose perceptions are relevant? How can one gain an impression of these perceptions, since the workers, the peasants, the masses did not keep diaries or write memoirs? In order to support my thesis, according to which the perception of social security is responsible to a great extent for the longevity of Communism in Romania, I will refer to a series of interviews I conducted in the summer of in Romania, and a number of public surveys conducted between and by different agencies.

The majority of those who gave this answer was represented by people with a low level of education, by elderly people, women, workers and peasants, while among intellectuals these tendencies were rarer. The survey revealed that the poor and the low-educated continue to consider communism in positive terms. These are also the social groups that continue to feel the need for social protection against different types of social and economic risks.

Many high-educated and young people supported these views in as well. For this contradiction I advance the explanation that, in recent times, people have felt increasing social and economic pressures and therefore their desire for social security guarantees has increased, regardless of educational levels, age or social status. In Romania the social policies are currently addressing the needs of the disadvantaged social groups: That is, social security is not addressed from the universalistic post-war perspective, but from the limited, interwar perspective.

However, in Romania, only 23 percent of the people belong to the middle class according to a studyif the criterion taken into consideration is the level of income. To better understand these attitudes, I interviewed twenty people over eighteen years of age in Romania, using a probabilistic sample design and the face-to-face mode.

Using the interview method for gathering information, my purpose was to see how these individuals perceive the social policies of the Communist welfare state in order to construct a working hypothesis for future research. The interviewees were asked to answer a set of questions concerning their memories of the communist ideology and Communist regime.

Since I am interested in establishing not only how people remember Communism, but mainly why people remember Communism the way they do, I asked them to explain or motivate their answers. Twelve of the interviewees agreed, while the rest disagreed to varying degrees. Among the good aspects of Communism they enumerated elements of the Communist social policies: Eleven interviewees stated that under Communism they had felt socially more safe compared with the present situation: The difference between these two figures shows that people are less attached to Communism as a political ideology or a regime than was previously considered, and more to the welfare the Communist state provided.


Most of them do not regret the abolition of the Communist system, and they do not want to reinstitute it. However, they do have some good memories of the past because they feel that the Communist system provided them with social security and welfare. These answers suggest how important the perception of Communist social security was and still is in the appreciation of Communism in Romania. Even though the power was often off, I got comjnism safe. Public transport between towns and rural areas functioned properly.

In hospitals you were respected and you did not have to pay. The young were respectful and education was serious. The pension after a lifetime of working was not that big, but cotidizna could live decently.

Today I feel sorry for you, viat young.

I feel sorry for my children too: In the s necula pretty much had everything we needed: My parents were peasants and we had been very very poor, necculau now I had a TV, a cooking stove, a phone, a car, I was a teacher and I lived in the city.

The stores were well supplied and we could buy everything we needed: We used to go on holiday, we could even travel abroad. But then the s came, and it was impossible to buy even the most ordinary thing. No food, no clothes, no shoes, huge queues in front of shops for virtually everything.

No gas, no hot water, no cold water, no electricity We even started to have problems with money. In hospitals children started to die from the cold or lack of medicines. Ambulances refused to take calls from the elderly. My sister and her husband died of asphyxiation by gas in the winter ofI believe, because they fell asleep on the chairs in the kitchen with the stove on. They had tried to heat the house this way because there was no heat. Their daughter, just a few months old, almost died then too Some of my interviewees even considered that, had the shortage of available goods not occurred in the s, the Communist regime would not have collapsed in These interviews show that people revolted firstly because of the shortage of available goods and the rationing of food, hot and cold water, electricity and methane gas.

As one worker declared: And all of this in a time called the Golden Age. Before the war one third of the population was illiterate and lived in the countryside. Today we are assisting in the degradation of what has been done before Thus, people today seem to want a state that would provide them with a proper health care and education system, with a decent standard of living, with a safety net in case of illness or unemployment.

People seem to want a state that assumes responsibility for the welfare of its citizens. Dissatisfied with the current situation and under the impression of the recent experience of a different political and social order, they tend to exaggerate the benefits of the Communist past.

The Communist past is reflected positively only when comparing it with the present situation or the pre-Communist era. Social discontent prevails today, 34 and social discontent prevailed before Communism. Hence the superiority of the social security net under Communism — at least prior to the s — is amplified.

Social policies in Communist Romania.