Music, Politics and Liquid Modernity : How Rock-stars Became Politicians and Why Politicians Became Rock-stars.

Higgins, Andy (2010) Music, Politics and Liquid Modernity : How Rock-stars Became Politicians and Why Politicians Became Rock-stars. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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As popular music eclipsed Hollywood as the most powerful mode of seduction of Western youth, rock-stars erupted through the counter-culture as potent political figures. Following its sensational arrival, the politics of popular musical culture has however moved from the shared experience of protest movements and picket lines and to an individualised and celebrified consumerist experience. As a consequence what emerged, as a controversial and subversive phenomenon, has been de-fanged and transformed into a mechanism of establishment support. Throughout this period, as rock-stars have morphed from 'pariahs to paragons of virtue', public confidence in the art of politics has declined to an all time low. Sharing similar challenges in terms of building cultural capital and maintaining a sense of credibility, rock-stars have therefore tended to succeed where politicians have largely failed. In order to arrest this decline Featherstone claims that liquid modem politics has gravitated towards the ease of 'commodified consumer critique' than using this shift as an opportunity for 'serious political critique'. Naively attempting to re-habilitate itself by constructing marketable identities to re-energise its popularity, potency and appeal, politicians have transformed themselves into media 'personalities'. Stylistically re-engineered by adopting the entertainment protocols of the pop celebrity and the seductive language of consumerism, today's politicians share more and more similarities with stars from the world of music. More fundamentally, modernity's meltdown and re-ordering of traditional meanings encourages everything including both politics and music to become increasingly liquid, unfixed and indefinite. As consumerism replaces politics as the society's all-powerful meta-value, its underpinning logic seeks to ingratiate, please and entertain where politics once sought to challenge and question. As a result the symbiosis of rock-star-politics is increasingly normalised and soaks more deeply into the fabric of liquid modem life. Seduced by the trappings of celebrity and carnival, the rock-star's journey of transformation exemplifies many of the obstacles liquid modernity now places in the way of establishing moral responsibility and developing meaningful politics. Bauman's sociological cement brings together many of these challenges and the burgeoning world of popular music culture now offers an interesting device to illuminate these ongoing difficulties. In this complex and highly unpredictable world it is increasingly difficult to even imagine new forms of transgression let alone mount a serious political challenge to the its market driven ethos. By mixing Bauman's strident critique with an analysis of popular music's fast moving industry of stars, controversies and consumption practices, this thesis provides an alternative reading through music culture of the continuing search for politics.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Lancaster University (United Kingdom), 2010.
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Deposited On:
02 May 2019 16:28
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 00:34