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Book: Trajectories and Themes in World Popular Music

Chapter: Popular Music in Postdemocracy

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.34463


Neoliberalism has thoroughly undermined egalitarianism, which calls into question the legitimacy of globalization and global hegemonic capitalism. We are in an age of interregnum, the historical point of postdemocracy, which raises questions about the idea of active democratic citizenship, and how this activism is mobilized though and manifested in world popular music practices. Chapter 5 focuses on the postdemocratic conditions of today’s neoliberal culture and asks important questions about the role of social democratic citizenship, conceptualized here through the role of popular music in democracy and resistance. Real World, The Elders, and Witness charity are all examples of social democratic citizenship that show that a more optimistic, moral stance toward globalization is possible. Democracy and resistance are also at play through the role played by feminism and the civil rights and anti-racism movements in popular music within the hegemonic order of the global music business and wider society. Popular music can indeed function in opposition to the cultural hegemonic norm. Unequal power structures and stereotypical and oppressive role models have been revealed, challenged, and resisted by feminist and postcolonial musical practices, which reminds us of the way that race, gender, and class have assumed constructed meanings that are applied to identity characteristics of others, highlighting the ways in which inequality and prejudice are constructed in the representations of popular music. Chapter 5 highlights local forms of resistance to the spread of western culture, beliefs, practices, and norms through the lenses of hybridity, democracy, and global civility, considering audiences animated by social justice and cosmopolitan imagination, who challenge global capitalism’s commodification of the gendered, exotic, and racialized other. Yet, troubling as it may seem, neoliberalism has also led to periodic outbreaks of conservative, nationalist, right-wing socialism, and some popular music has served as a powerful means to negotiate, express, and model ethnocentric political identities. When aligned politically with the “Right”, such popular music is often most directly concerned with right-wing socialism and white nationalism. Some of these movements do, of course, raise concern and questions regards their compatibility with democracy. Yet they do share with the anti-globalization movement a discontent with postdemocracy, internationalism, and the consequences of uncontrolled global capitalism.

Chapter Contributors

  • Simone Krüger Bridge ( - skruger) 'Liverpool John Moores University'