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Published by Hakan Sipahi

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Protest Movements: Class Consciousness and the Propaganda SongAuthor(s): R. Serge DenisoffReviewed work(s):Source:
The Sociological Quarterly,
Vol. 9, No. 2 (Spring, 1968), pp. 228-247Published by:
on behalf of the
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Accessed: 21/12/2011 11:00
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ProtestMovements:ClassConsciousnessandthePropagandaSong*
R.SERGE
DENISOFF,
SimonFraserUniversity
THE
PURPOSE
ofthispaperistoexaminetherelationshipofpropagandasongstosocialmovements. The roleandfunctionofthepropagandasonghasinthepastreceivedlittleattentionfromsociologistsand socialscientistsasawhole.Theprimaryusageofthepropagandasongistocreatepoliticalorsocialconsciousnessfavorabletothepositionofthemovementor individualusingthepropagandasong.Theoriginalin-terpretationoftheconcept "politicalconsciousness"connotesapredis-positionforsocialchange.1Leninderivedtheconceptofpoliticalconsciousness fromMarxwho viewed classconsciousnessasthesub-jectivemeans offacilitatingchangeinthesocialstructure.ForMarx,classmembershipwasoriginallyanaggregateofpersonsinagiveneco-nomicstrata or"aclassin itself."Class consciousnessemergeswhenmembers ofaclass(theproletariat)identifythemselveswith the class(theproletarianclass)andtheirpositioninthestratificationsystemandwhenthe membersoftheclass are awareoftheirhistoricalrole intheMarxiantheoretical scheme orachange-oriented"classforitself."Millscorrectlydefines threeelementsessentialfor classconsciousnesstoexist:(1)arationalawareness and identificationwith one'sownclassinterests; (2)anawarenessofandrejectionof other classinterestsasillegitimate;and(3)anawareness of and a readiness to usecollectivepoliticalmeansto the collectivepoliticalendofrealizingone'sinterest.2LeninmadeexplicitthispostulateinWhat IsToBeDonebysug-gestingthat theproletariatwas notandcouldnotbeconscious oftheirreconcilableantagonismsoftheirinterests.Workers, accordingtoLenin,aresingularlyengagedin"outburstsofdesperation."Therefore,anor-ganizationmustbe formedandmaintainedto"takeupthepoliticaledu-cation of theworkingclass,and thedevelopmentofpoliticalconscious-ness."3Lenin,hereby,injectedthefactor of amobilizingforce-social
*I amindebtedto AndrewP.Phillips,ThomasJ.Duggan,andespeciallyDelfoGigliofortheirsuggestions,assistance,andcritiquesoftheoriginalversion ofthispaper.
1
V.I.Lenin,"WhatIsTo BeDone?" inCollectedWorks(NewYork:Inter-nationalPublishers, 1929),IV,113-54.
2
C.WrightMills,WhiteCollar(NewYork:OxfordPress,1956),p.325.
3
Lenin,op.cit.,p.139.
228
 
Class ConsciousnessandthePropagandaSong229
movements-generally ignoredinthestructural-psychologicaltenetsofclassconsciousnessasperceived byMarx. Onemeansofcreatingclassconsciousness,especiallybypoliticalandsocialmovementsfamiliarwiththewritingsofMarxand laterLenin,hasbeen theuseofthepropagandasongperformedorcomposedinthefolkidiom,thatis,songs performedemployingtheinstrumentationandpresentationaltechniquestradition-allymanifestedbynonprofessionalfolksingers.4Few folkloristsconsidercontemporarypropagandasongsasbeingfolksongs.Althoughthereappearstobesomedisagreementamongobserversastotheelementsconstitutingthedefinition of a folksong,thefollowingcharacteristicsareconsensuallysubmitted:(1)theauthor ofthesongisanonymous;(2)thesongsareorallytransmittedfromonegenerationto thenext;and(3)thesongmustexperienceverbal alterationduring generationaltransmission.Generally propagandasongsof thetwentiethcenturyhavenot metthe definitionalcriteria.Thevastmajorityofthesesongssuggestthefollowingpropertiesinvaryingdegreesasbeing present:(1)theauthorof thesongispubliclyidentifiable;(2)songtransmissionisthroughaudio-visualaids,suchas theprintedpage,e.g., songbooks,orincontemporarytimes,records;and(3)fewpropagandasongssurvivebeyondtheirhistoricalgenreororganizationalmilieu.This truncatedcomparisonof thecharacteristics offolkandpropagandasongsindicatesthatgenerallypropaganda songsarenotfolksongsinthedefinitionalsense,and,therefore,thetwotermscannotbeemployedinterchangeably.Apropagandasongor"songofpersuasion"inthefolk idiomcan bedefined asasongwhichfunctionstocommunicate anidea,aconcept,oratotalideologytothelistener,employingthestructureofa folksong.5Propagandasongsfunctiontoachievesixgoals:(1)thesongsolicitsandarousesoutsidesupportorsympathyfora socialmovementorattitudinalorientation;(2)thesongreinforcesthevaluesystemof individualswhoare apriorisupportersofasocialmovementorideology;(3)thesongcreatesandpromotescohesionandsolidarityin anorganizationormove-mentsupportingthesinger'sorcomposer's ideologicalposition;(4)thesongattemptstorecruit individualstojoinaspecificsocialmovement;(5)thesonginvokes solutions torealorimaginedsocialphenomenainterms ofaction toachieveadesiredgoal;and(6)thesongdirects at-tentiontosomeproblemsituation ordiscontent,generallyinemotion
4HaroldD.LasswellandDorothyBlumenstock,WorldRevolutionaryPropa-ganda (NewYork:AlfredKnopf,1939),pp.89-94;ArleneE.Kaplan,"AStudyofFolksinginginaMassSociety," Sociologus,5:19(1955).
5
Thisdefinitioninthe contextofthepaperreferstothosepropagandasongsdealingwithsociopoliticalideologiesand eventsintheframeworkofthepolity.See R.SergeDenisoff,"Songsof Persuasion:ASociological AnalysisofUrbanPropagandaSongs,"JournalofAmericanFolklore,79:581-89(1966),forafurtherdiscussionof thedefinitions andcriteriaofpropaganda songs.
6
Ibid.,pp.582-84.

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