This study seeks to delineate the highly convoluted relationship between (rock) musicians and the state in late socialist Romania (1975–1985). By investigating extensive archival files originating from the Securitate records, Agitprop branches, and the ideological committees of the Romanian Communist Party, we examine how the Romanian regime employed its mechanisms of creative control and how it made sense of Romanian musicians’ attempt to navigate them. First, such intricate mechanisms ranged from rewards and penalties in order to ensure ideological compliance, to repression by means of surveillance, recruitment, and harassment. Second, in our exploration of the margins of consent and dissent, the relationship between musicians and the state fluctuated between one of duplicity (that proved beneficial for both entities) and (symbolic) resistance (through collective and individual forms of dissent). Successful dissent came mostly from abroad, while, domestically, musicians were much more rigidly controlled; without being able to articulate coherent forms of dissent through their music, musicians challenged the Securitate through issues of morality. Music also led to the formation of subcultures-csöves and punks-which practiced anti-proletarian rituals of dissent. Thus, this research throws considerable light on broader sociological debates, such as the role of musicians in totalitarian settings, the hidden mechanisms employed by the state, and the ongoing literature concerning the configuration of subcultural movements in the Eastern bloc.

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Keywords Archival records analysis, Late socialism, Popular music, Romania, Subcultures
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Journal East European Politics and Societies
Mogoș, P, & Berkers, P.P.L. (2018). Navigating the margins between consent and dissent. East European Politics and Societies, 32(1), 56–77. doi:10.1177/0888325417736807