Rock Against Racism (RAR) operated between 1976 and 1981, and was a mass campaign that combined anti-racist politics with popular culture. Throughout this period RAR used the medium of concerts featuring black and white musicians as a focus for, and practical demonstration of, its politics of 'inter-racial' unity. This book deals with important theoretical issues that are particularly pertinent to the party's relationship with RAR. It covers three areas: the theory of state capitalism, the relationship between the party and the working class, and the united front. The book then examines the state of the Socialist Workers Party - formerly the International Socialists (IS) - during the mid- to late 1970s. The youth cultures with which RAR most closely identified were contested between political tendencies and music industry interests before RAR appeared on the scene. Punk had emerged as a significant, if somewhat ambivalent, radical phenomenon in its own right and reggae was implicated in the politico-cultural struggles between black people and the British state. Furthermore, it is clear from the testimony from the far-right that black culture was not immune to co-option by forces opposed to the kind of multiculturalism that RAR espoused. The book also looks at some of the political and social influences on the organisation's politics. It argues that RAR's approach entailed a rejection both of the Communist Party's Cold War-inflected point of view and of those theorists who despaired of any attempt to break the grip of bourgeois ideology on the working class.
Music played a major role in the life of a global ideological phenomenon like the British Empire. This book demonstrates that music has to be recognised as one of the central characteristics of the cultural imperialism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It begins with an account of the imperial music of Sir Edward Elgar and Sir Arthur Sullivan and the establishing of an imperial musical idiom. The book discusses the music composed for or utilized by official occasions: coronations, jubilees, exhibitions, tattoos, Armistice Day and Empire Day. Community singing was also introduced at the Aldershot Military Tattoo in 1927, sponsored by the Daily Express. The book examines the imperial content of a range of musical forms: operetta and ballet, films, music hall songs, ballads, hymns and marches. In one of the scenes depicting ballet, Indian dancing girls are ordered to reveal the riches of the land and the Ballet of Jewels. There were two staples of song in the second half of the nineteenth century: the drawing-room ballad and the music-hall song. Sir Henry Coward was Britain's leading chorus-master, and his 1911 musical world tour with Sheffield choir was the high point of his career. The book concludes with a discussion of practitioners of imperial music: the divas Emma Albani, Nellie Melba and Clara Butt, and the baritone Peter Dawson.
This book explores the interface between musicological and sociological approaches to the analysis of music, and in doing so reveals the differing foundations of cultural studies and sociological perspectives more generally. Building on the arguments of his earlier book Sounds and society, the author initially contrasts text-based attempts to develop a ‘social’ analysis of music with sociological studies of musical activities in real cultural and institutional contexts. It is argued that the difficulties encountered by some of the ‘new’ musicologists in their efforts to introduce a social dimension to their work are often a result of their unfamiliarity with contemporary sociological discourse. Just as linguistic studies have moved from a concern with the meaning of words to a focus on how they are used, a sociological perspective directs our attention towards the ways in which the production and reception of music inevitably involve the collaborative activities of real people in particular times and places. The social meanings and significance of music, therefore, cannot be disclosed by analysis of the ‘texts’ alone, but only through the examination of the ways in which music is a constituent part of real social settings. This theme is developed through discussions of music in relation to processes of social stratification, the collaborative activities of improvising musicians, music as language, music as a ‘cultural object’ and music in everyday social situations.
One of the arguments for which Wittgenstein is most celebrated is
his contention that linguistic meaning is not inherent in words,
phrases, sentences and so on, but depends on the ways in which they
are used (1972: 20). At first sight, this seems contrary to commonsense notions of how we communicate, and also to alternative
theories of language which are based on the assumption that words
represent states of affairs. After all, what could be more straightforward than a sentence like ‘The grey
On the basis of a body of reggae songs from the 1970s and late 1990s, this book offers a sociological analysis of memory, hope and redemption in reggae music. From Dennis Brown to Sizzla, the way in which reggae music constructs a musical, religious and socio-political memory in rupture with dominant models is illustrated by the lyrics themselves. How is the past remembered in the present? How does remembering the past allow for imagining the future? How does collective memory participate in the historical grounding of collective identity? What is the relationship between tradition and revolution, between the recollection of the past and the imagination of the future, between passivity and action? Ultimately, this case study of ‘memory at work’ opens up on a theoretical problem: the conceptualisation of time and its relationship with memory.
Music and manipulation
Adorno’s theory of contemporary society begins with the claim of a
system integration which has become total; thus he can regard the
entire media of the culture industry only as a means of domination and
must rate popular forms of art as phenomena of psychical regression.
(Honneth, 1995: 81)
The idea that people may be subject to manipulation by music is a
familiar one, yet efforts to develop it sociologically soon run into
difficulties. For one thing, the ‘manipulation’ in question
Music and the sociological gaze
‘The history of musicology and music theory in our generation’,
write Cook and Everist, ‘is one of loss of confidence: we no longer
know what we know’ (1999: v). The reasons for this widely
acknowledged crisis of confidence need not be rehearsed, but clearly
arise from a series of challenges to the established discipline – from,
for example, the critical and feminist theories of the ‘new’ musicologists, from various claims about the proper relation of musicology
distant); an influx of professionals; territorial behaviour to reinforce
social status; and collective interests dependent on forums, networks
and allegiances. If we are to view the gentry not just as a construct of
the historian but as an active social impulse, then music, as a cultural
practice or even a commodity in fifteenth-century England, is an
undeniably attractive area for study.
As an index of
The national anthem and
Any consideration of official music
must begin with the national anthem. It was an indispensable part of all
official occasions for which music was specially provided: coronations,
jubilees, royal weddings and funerals; the great exhibitions; the annual
celebrations of Empire Day and Armistice Day. The national anthem has a
In the previous chapter I suggested that punk and post-punk are best
conceived, for sociological purposes, as ‘music worlds’, a concept
I adapt from Howard Becker’s notion of ‘art worlds’ (1951, 1963,
1974, 1976, 1982, 1995, 2004, 2006a, 2006b; Faulkner and Becker
2009; see also Bottero and Crossley 2011; Finnegan 1989; Lopes 2002;
Martin 1995, 2005, 2006a, 2006b). In this chapter I elaborate upon this
concept. Before I do, however, I briefly review three alternative conceptions, explaining why I have chosen ‘music worlds’ over them. As much