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Music and Politics (PCPC - Polity Contemporary Political Communication Series) [Paperback]

John Street
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
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Book Description

14 Oct 2011 PCPC - Polity Contemporary Political Communication Series
It is common to hear talk of how music can inspire crowds, move individuals and mobilise movements. We know too of how governments can live in fear of its effects, censor its sounds and imprison its creators. At the same time, there are other governments that use music for propaganda or for torture. All of these examples speak to the idea of music′s political importance. But while we may share these assumptions about music′s power, we rarely stop to analyse what it is about organised sound – about notes and rhythms – that has the effects attributed to it. This is the first book to examine systematically music′s political power. It shows how music has been at the heart of accounts of political order, at how musicians from Bono to Lily Allen have claimed to speak for peoples and political causes. It looks too at the emergence of music as an object of public policy, whether in the classroom or in the copyright courts, whether as focus of national pride or employment opportunities. The book brings together a vast array of ideas about music′s political significance (from Aristotle to Rousseau, from Adorno to Deleuze) and new empirical data to tell a story of the extraordinary potency of music across time and space. At the heart of the book lies the argument that music and politics are inseparably linked, and that each animates the other.

Frequently Bought Together

Music and Politics (PCPC - Polity Contemporary Political Communication Series) + Music and Social Movements: Mobilizing Traditions in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge Cultural Social Studies) + 33 Revolutions Per Minute
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Press; 1 edition (14 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074563544X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745635446
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 16.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 378,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"No, this is not another book about Sting, Bono and St Bob doing their good works while singing of the world′s troubles. Rather, it is a serious, intelligent and surprisingly comprehensive study of the complex interplay between music and politics ... This is a meticulously researched book, which makes a powerful case for the enduring importance of music and its vital role in politics." Sydney Morning Herald "Unearths a submerged tradition in political thought that gives music a central place. Exploring the politics of the star rating system, the ability of musical events such as Rock Against Racism to stir people into political action, censorship and music policy and the role of the musician as political advocate, Street argues that whenever music inspires collective thought and action, it becomes a political act." The Age "Dives into this world of power, influence and catchy choruses with gusto. Music and Politics is a great book. Readable, provocative and incredibly informative, Street walks the tightrope between academic and fan." R2 Magazine "No other scholar is better positioned or as well equipped as Street to tease out the manifold ties that bind together the musical and the political." Music and Letters "A thought–provoking analysis of the role of music in shaping how we see the world and how we organise ourselves. Whether music truly is politics, and politics music, is a matter of contention. What is clear is the political power of music as a force in our lives." Songlines "A must read for scholars interested in music as well as politics, and also for those music lovers who are willing to learn more about topical participatory events of wester popular music like Woodstock , Rock Against Racism and Live 8 ." Journal of Contemporary European Studies "John Street′s Music and Politics is splendid. Drawing deftly on a unique blend of encyclopedic knowledge about popular music and mastery of political theories, Street helps us see how music matters, why culture counts, and how political affiliation emerges out of public processes and private practices." George Lipsitz, author of Footsteps in the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music "From ancient Athens to Zimbabwe; from Amnesty International and A+ albums to white supremacists and the songs of the Wombles; John Street confronts the serious and the silly. Blending passions of a pop fan with the skepticism of the scholarly critic, this book offers an indispensable guide to how musicians make politics and politicians manipulate music." Keith Negus, University of London "With a breadth and depth that one would expect to find in an edited collection, John Street′s Music and Politics argues for expansive definitions of music and the political without inflating them beyond all meaning. The book problematizes all the intricacies of the relationship between the two, even as it interrogates the crucial connections that make them inseparable." Reebee Garofalo, University of Massachusetts

From the Back Cover

It is common to hear talk of how music can inspire crowds, move individuals and mobilise movements. We know too of how governments can live in fear of its effects, censor its sounds and imprison its creators. At the same time, there are other governments that use music for propaganda or for torture. All of these examples speak to the idea of music’s political importance. But while we may share these assumptions about music’s power, we rarely stop to analyse what it is about organised sound – about notes and rhythms – that has the effects attributed to it. This is the first book to examine systematically music’s political power. It shows how music has been at the heart of accounts of political order, at how musicians from Bono to Lily Allen have claimed to speak for peoples and political causes. It looks too at the emergence of music as an object of public policy, whether in the classroom or in the copyright courts, whether as focus of national pride or employment opportunities. The book brings together a vast array of ideas about music’s political significance (from Aristotle to Rousseau, from Adorno to Deleuze) and new empirical data to tell a story of the extraordinary potency of music across time and space. At the heart of the book lies the argument that music and politics are inseparably linked, and that each animates the other.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good starting point... 20 April 2012
By Flickering Ember TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It goes without saying that music and politics influence eachother...one glaring example of this is the rise of the punk movement in the 1970s against the backdrop of an austere government and the Notting Hill riots of 1976. I chose this book partly because of the recommendation given by Keith Negus, a prominent author of Popular Music books (most notably Popular Music in Theory: An Introduction which was really helpful to me during my time studying Popular Music at university.

This book skirts around certain issues, I guess for fear of reprisal or ostracisation, and instead uses Bob Geldof as an example ad nauseum. I think the idea is a good one, and certainly there is a lack of books discussing the relationship between music and politics, but I felt this book didn't go in-depth enough and as such isn't as good as it could have been. As there are limited resources on this subject matter, though, I would recommend it nonetheless.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bored and confused 30 Dec 2011
By Ms. Felicia Davis-burden VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
John Street is undoubtedly passionate about his subject, but there is little to entertain any reader looking for a rounded examination of the continuing tricky relationship between musicians (and the business) and politics. There are interesting chapters to do with censorship and how the Mercury prize is rigged - there really is no other way of seeing it - and a convoluted section looks at the history of American folk music, including a hefty nod at Greil Marcus. Street's confusing narrative feels uncomfortably close to Marcus's excesses.

I think something more should have been said about rock stars using political charging as a means to massage their egos and further their sense of self-importance. Obvious names are absent from Street's book. While not in favour of muck-raking, I still think that this is an area Street should have covered. He returns too frequently to Bob Geldof, and this becomes tiresome very soon.

I was briefly amused that the rise of the Amazon citizen-reviewer is acknowledged, waving at us to give the impression that we really make a difference! Peculiarly, given this, Street makes no mention of 'Trolling' or the employment of 'reviewers' by record companies or publishers. Both are political acts - one churlish and clumsy, the other insidious - and now all too common. I don't think we Amazon reviewers do what we do as a political act: to quote the PM that should've been, Billie Piper (hit singles at 14! decapitating Daleks!) we do it 'Because we want to, because we want to!'

Sorry, but this really is a dry and difficult read. Still, thanks for the heads up, John!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Educational, Not Entertaining 1 Mar 2012
By HeavyMetalMonty VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
'Humans make music and music makes us human.'
- Cloonan & Frith, A Music Manifesto for Scotland (2011)

Music and Politics (PCPC - Polity Contemporary Political Communication Series) isn't an easy book to rate. On one hand, it's a thorough exploration of the ways in which music and politics affect each other (the author goes as far as to suggest they're extensions of each other). From an academic perspective, this is a five-star book. Yet while the content is hugely educational, John Street's dry, humourless writing style hinders the book's readability. I ploughed through the pages, fully aware that they were laden with valuable knowledge, but - try as I might - I couldn't get enthused about the mode of delivery. It's a safe bet that most books with the word 'politics' in the title will be duller than dishwater, but a great writer can bring even the most boring subject to life; an example that springs to mind is Michael Lewis, whose Boomerang: The Meltdown Tour describes serious events (those that caused the global economic crash) in the style of an unravelling mystery loaded with incisive observational humour. Not so with this book. Street knows his subject inside out: he's professor of politics at the University of East Anglia, so one would expect this to be the case. His writing would greatly benefit, however, from an infusion of humour and literary flair. My experience of reading this book was very much like that of eating cabbage as a child: I knew it was good for me, but I just couldn't enjoy it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Solid 30 Mar 2013
By R. Lawson VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This subject is one close to me. I've always said that no-one changes their political views starting from a position of logical argument. We start with our hearts and not our heads. Thus political arts and music in particular seems to me to be of enormous importance; one only needs to think of Vicor Jara, Sylvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanes, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, or indeed it doesn't take much further thought to come up with Wagner and Shostakovitch.
Having written that pre-amble and explained introduced my interest in the subject matter I have to say that this is a book very much for the head rather than the heart. It is deeply academic, and always scrupulously examines every angle to a question, and asks what has been argued before. The trouble is that it often doesn't seem to get anywhere; it doesn't make up its mind. Rather than producing evidence to support a well argued position, it seems to get stuck at the point of assembling evidence. It's not that there is an absence of interesting facts; there is a wealth of interesting information to absorb here, but oh dear! it's hard work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Turns a great subject matter into a tedious book
I've never seen a book that took such an interesting and dynamic modern topic, and suck all the life out of it in such a way that it becomes barely readable. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mr. Stuart Bruce
3.0 out of 5 stars Music and Politics
I have to agree with other reviewers here and say `Music and Politics' sounds like it should be a fascinating book exploring the relationship between the two topics, but sadly it... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Spider Monkey
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to like, but a slightly easier read than you might imagine
When reading this book, a did so from the point of view of the slightly geeky music fan that I am, knowing probably far too much about artists and genres that I don't actually like... Read more
Published 22 months ago by DJ Bez
4.0 out of 5 stars An overambitious choice for a holiday read
Any negative element in my experience of this book will be due will be my lack of appreciation of how academic this book is. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Leon Crawley
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting in Parts
As this book deals with 2 subjects that I've always had more than a passing interest in I was looking forward to an interesting and entertaing read. Read more
Published on 27 Jun 2012 by Lova
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful introduction to the topic
This book seems to be aimed at students of music or politics and offers a broad overview of the ways in which the two have interacted. Read more
Published on 15 Jun 2012 by M. V. Clarke
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustratingly Misses More Times Than It Hits
Being a lover of both music and politics, the title of this book seemed to promise a marriage made in heaven. So did it deliver? Read more
Published on 15 May 2012 by Zipster Zeus
4.0 out of 5 stars Heavy-duty academic treatise- but powerful polemic! Caveat emptor!
Actually, this is a terrific book. Powerful, thought-provoking, challenging- it really makes you think about both the explicit and implicit links between politics and music. Read more
Published on 16 Mar 2012 by M. W. Hatfield
3.0 out of 5 stars Depends on your expectations................
Whilst this book raises some interesting points, I will admit on a number of occasions to having to put it down without planning to return to it over the last two months. Read more
Published on 26 Feb 2012 by Warleybear
3.0 out of 5 stars Knows all the words, but can`t feel the music...
This really isn't a book suited to the general or casual reader; I`ve read a few political science and sociology books in my time, so I thought I`d be well primed for this, but I... Read more
Published on 17 Feb 2012 by J. Mcdonald
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