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Analyzing Music as Social Product?

July 19, 2009

During the late 1960s, society’s values and norms changed radically, especially in the “younger generation,” or teenagers and those in their early 20s. I’m sure you have all heard of the “love generation” and the “hippies.” Some sociologists attempt to measure norm flux through popular music. That is to say, they analyze the content and presentation of music popular at specific times among certain groups to try and understand those groups at those times. Listen to the music below from H. P. Lovecraft, a socially conscious psychedelic band from the late 1960s. Notice the pacing of the music, the sound itself, and the content of the lyrics.

Many sociologists hold we are currently going through a new social epoch. This change is more subtle than the late 1960s, but just as powerful and more skeptical and dark. Watch this 2009 music video by the Soulidium depicting a vampiric subculture—its been developing in the United States since the 1980s:

Both of these songs can be interpreted to contain strong social commentary. They can be viewed as “social protest” songs, objecting to the current state of society and the response of the respective groups in adapting to their environment.

If you would like to discuss this point, please select a topic below and respond to it:

1. Do you think these songs are reflecting a dissatisfaction and rebellion from society? If so, what elements of society do you think they both address? What different characteristics of society do you the songs respond to?

2. What is different about the presentation of the song in the videos? What insights might this give you about the different characteristics of the groups these songs appeal to?

3. Some sociologists argue that the social revolution of the late 1960s was intended to be productive or to fix society’s ills, but the current rebellion is more cynical and is simply a rejection of current social understandings. What do you think? How could you use the content of the music produced by these two different generations to support your conclusions?

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