Women and space: the search for identity

Anelė Vosyliūtė


In the paper the authoress analyses the relations between women and space; such aspects as consumption of social and cultural structure, the level of trust in them, the signicance and meanings of divers places in women life are revealed. The bacground of this study are such methodological principles, as the strong relation among existential experience and notion (W. Dilthey), the trust in the subject competence (underlining the life history method), the M. Maffesoli approach that sociality is not homogeneous, but the integration of feelings and images too. In the paper mostly the narratives of the small places (as the salons of aristocrats), divers localities of women are represented. The women being and walking in the space show the level of their independance and freedom; many centures they were limited only by family dwelling. Only since the eve of XX c. when the economic and educational situation of women is becoming more strong (women are more independent and responsible), they are taking some roles in social
life and space. Some women‘s work and education places in the country were constructed; the other young girls were abandoned the country for living in abroad. In the urbanistic Vilnius space the shelters for the poor women were established. As W. Staniewicz (the author of social monography in 1923 y. about Vilnius district village) noted, for women were characteristic new experiences - emigration to the cities, the meeting with different cultures. The women are becoming hard agents in the struggle against civilizational and cultural backwardness of the country. Their growing mobility and education, the acquisition of new professions and establishing in new work places were the signs of changing women identities. On the ground of women's life histories material the authoress reveals the meanings related with the using of different private and social places, the divers relations among women and space. Profane and sacred places are separable.
In contemporary Lithuania we can see the growing liberation of women; the process of formation their new roles, styles of life, changing consumer needs and interests is going. The individualisation and new forms of life are related with the new private and social places construction. After long years of ascetic socialist consumption the beginning of the new era can hardly be imagined without the explosion of consumer ‘hedonism', body care or without the satisfaction of new needs and desires. The cultural and technological changes, the norms of civilization have made the women body the significant topic of public opinion. The process of aestheticization of life, the growth of leisure have identified personal worth with the beauty of the young body. We can see in the consumption sphere the orientation at Western culture, involvement many new styles, the manifestation of new tastes. The styles of consumption are the means of exhibiting ‘cultural capital'; social distinction is marked by tastes.
In the article the emergence of new tradition related with the using of some places (as coffe-house) is presented.
Key words: the salons of aristocrats as a place of communication, the development of women public sphere, the mobility of women, the meanings of consumption places.

Anelė Vosyliūtė
Socialinių tyrimų institutas
El. paštas: avosyliute@takas.lt