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Britishness, popular music, and national identity: The making of modern Britain

Morra, Irene 2013. Britishness, popular music, and national identity: The making of modern Britain. Routledge Studies in Popular Music, Abingdon: Routledge.

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Abstract

This book offers a major exploration of the social and cultural importance of popular music to contemporary celebrations of Britishness. Rather than a history of popular music, or an attempt to identify indigenous qualities in a popular music tradition, it exposes and interrogates the influential cultural and nationalist rhetoric around popular music — and the dissemination of that rhetoric in various forms. Since the 1960s, popular music has surpassed literature to become the dominant signifier of modern cultural British identity. This position is enforced in popular culture, literature, news and music media, political rhetoric, and in popular music itself, which has become increasingly self-conscious about the expectation that music both articulate and manifest the inherent values and identity of the modern nation. This study examines the implications of such practices and the various social and cultural values they construct and enforce, identifying two dominant, conflicting constructions around popular music: music as the voice of an indigenous English ‘folk’, and music as the voice of a re-emergent British Empire. Mainstream celebrations of popular music are fundamentally contradictory in their simultaneous invocation of Britannia and anti-institutional rebellion. They are also fundamentally exclusive, proscribing both a social and a musical identity for the nation that ignores its greater creative, national, and cultural diversity. These issues inform an extremely powerful national (and nationalist) rhetoric around British identity in England, and this book offers the first comprehensive interrogation of these many assumptions.

Item Type: Book
Book Type: Authored Book
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
ISBN: 9780415834810
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Last Modified: 02 May 2014 12:02
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/39125

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