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But Bruce Springsteen Told Me To…: Placing Stock in Musicians; Political Statements

Year: 
2008
Researcher(s): 
Emily Shrider
Institution: 
Ohio Northern University
Discipline: 
Sociology

In 2003, a controversy arose around the Dixie Chicks after the group criticized President Bush during a concert in England, which caused a tremendous backlash against the group, including death threats.  The following year, punk-rock band Green Day made a highly political album that won the Grammy for Best Rock Album.  While these situations had opposite outcomes, both are part of the same phenomenon:  non-political figures, musicians, make political statements that elicit a strong response from the population at large.  This paper explores these examples, as well as others, using Pareto’s theory of elites and logical action and Durkheim’s collective consciousness and the sacred to explore why people care and get upset about what musicians say regarding politics, ultimately arguing that the response is due to social forces, arising from the general consensus that musicians are “special.”

North Central Sociological Association; Cincinnati, OH