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Popular Music and Politics: In, Against and Beyond Identity

Winterson, Jessica S. (2018) Popular Music and Politics: In, Against and Beyond Identity. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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The research establishes radical modes of theorising for an explicitly anti-capitalist musicology able to celebrate music’s enactment of post-capitalist desire and to understand how music helps to ‘make what was previously deemed to be impossible seem attainable’. Adopting a sharp focus on the 1960s to the 1990s this thesis combines popular musicology and autonomist Marxism to argue that music functions as politics in transforming consciousness and shifting domains of acceptability in thought and feeling. Emancipatory politics must destroy the appearance of a ‘natural’ order and the thesis develops perspectives on ‘popular music and politics’ that can account for past struggles against capitalism, demonstrating how and why these struggles are naturalised with the discontinuity they signify necessarily erased or appropriated. Music performs emotional work of political significance such as in the embodiment of hope and confidence necessary for political mobilisation. The capacities of music to articulate the emotions that empower people are deployed here to suggest contradictions contained in, against and beyond identity bear utopian orientation. This statement is developed to ask what it means to counter hegemony and break social cohesion.

‘Insubordination’ forms the macro-arguments of the research. These arguments are around the roles of politics in popular music experience in the translation of mid-twentieth century revolution to capitalist realism and neoliberal modernity. Flows of rebellion are drawn out carefully in discussions of non-subordination, listening and identity. Hidden structures of rationality undermine the power of the imagination and therefore hinder possibilities for enacting non-capitalist futures. The research takes its cue from new trends which are cultivating different habits of thinking for post-capitalist politics and defining political action. It sets frames for the subversive potential of music as affording liberatory experience. Many of the concepts and ideas, such as psychedelic consciousness and punk performativity, used to discuss artists from Jimi Hendrix, to Patti Smith and John Cage (Destiny’s Child, Pussy Riot and Tupac) do not have recourse to assured theoretical principles. The reader should expect to access the work of a wide range of authors, not least Mark Fisher.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
Depositing User: Rebecca Hill
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2019 13:31
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2019 15:30


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