Power to the People: Mythical Thought and Figural Language in Online Comments about the Colectiv Case

Roxana Patras, Camelia Gradinaru, Sorina Postolea


Drawing on a corpus of reader comments posted to the news reports about the Colectiv fire on the Gandul daily website, this article investigates how "the void signifier" People is disputed between ideological and mythical thought in a moment of political and societal crisis. The comments were made by readers to a series of 578 news reports and editorials. Our study aims to inquire whether the figure of the People keeps its resourcefulness in an online conversational discourse regime. Particularly, we are interested in the way common people devise themselves as the People by mobilizing a specific political mythology established by both lay (people's sanctity/ unity/ homogeneity/ purity; national mission; genuine Latin origin; resurrection of legendary times/ figures) and religious tradition (Orthodox church as founder of Romanian nation, sacredness of political realm, divine qualities of the nation), and recently, by an utopian approach to empowering technological revolutions. The transfer of power between the theological concept of God and the secular concept of People is analyzed in a cultural and linguistic frame: 1. the Romanian Orthodox tradition and the modern developments of the Byzantine concept symphonia; 2. the semantic and syntactic specificities of the Romanian language within online media. As shown by the analysis, the static, passive and dynamic renditions of Popor [People] pertain to a narrative of political transcendence.


online reader comments, People, Kin, mythical thought, ideological thought, Orthodox tradition, people s sanctity, symphonia, critical discourse analysis, Colectiv

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