Creating a public space as a space of freedom, dialogue and trust, is one of the last challenges that post-communist transition in Romania faces today. This task is important because public space is merely a political space, meaning that people engaging in this space express the willingness to defend and pursue collective interests, to cooperate by the developing political resources, and to influence the political system. Although those issues are generally addressed by the means of surveys, we chose, instead, to study a widespread popular music genre called ‘manele’. Since critical discourse analysis (CDA) has successfully demonstrated that discourse is always connected with elements of various social processes, we use it here in order to fully understand ‘manele’ as a suitable vehicle carrying images and symbols to generate a particular narrative. Far from being specific to a marginal subculture, ‘manele’ are a social sign that offers compelling insights into the social world we live in. Thus, the social environment unveiled by ‘manele’ proves to be dominated by distrust, apathy and disengagement. The gloomy social environment labeled by ‘manele’ as a ‘mean world’, dominated by deep social distrust and uncertainty, largely encourages specific defensive reactions, as pervasive corruption, free-riding, social intolerance and violence, in a postcommunist society making efforts to rebuild social ties and to consolidate democracy following decades of totalitarian rule.
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