A study of the use of music in social movement activism
The following essay will be looking at how music, in general has helped the creation, of
social movements and how it has helped for major as well as minor changes in people’s everyday
life. To begin with, definitions of social movements, social networks, organisations and
collective action are given; then facts from the 1978 Rock Against Racism concentrate specified.
Finally, examples on how music has helped people in the 1920s-30s to “change” their lives. In
the appendices, i have included some lyrics from anti-racist songs from famous (and not) artists
as well as some pieces of old newspaper articles found on the internet.
and social movements’ activism
However, in order to understand social movements’ effect in our society, we first have to
understand their definitions. According to Blumer (1939, in Park 1939, p. 199)
“Social movements can be viewed as collective enterprises to establish a new order
of life. They have their inception in the condition of unrest, and derive their motive
power on one hand from dissatisfaction with the current form of life, and on the other
hand, from wishes and hopes for a new scheme or system of living”
Mario Diani (1992, p. 1), and in his article ‘
Concept of Social Movement’
, defines social
movements as “Networks of informal interactions between a plurality of individuals, groups and/
or organizations, engaged in political or cultural conflicts, on the basis of shared collective
identities”. Similarly, McAdam’s (1982) definition of social movement is that they are organized
efforts excluded groups who ‘demand’ (either by supporting or opposing) changes in society.
Finally, Tarrow (1994) explains that, instead of considering social movements as expressions of
fanaticism, they are better distinct as “collective challenges, based on common purposes and