Date of Award

2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr John Duff

Abstract

This study of young people's participation in politics seeks to investigate some of the areas where music and politics intersect in the lives of young people. From a broad interest in young people's participation, the relationship between young people, music and political participation will be explored. An initial account of the relationship between music and young people's political participation in advanced industrial capitalist societies such as Australia will be established. This relationship has previously received little academic attention. Dominant views of young people that suggest they are not interested in politics, or that they are irrelevant to political decision-making, deny young people's ability to participate. The established literature in the field of young people's political participation is limited in that it operates within a narrow framework which excludes most young people's activities and behaviours. It is apparent that many young people are excluded from formal political participation in contemporary advanced industrial societies. It is thus hoped that this study may help inform future research into the political participation of young people, through the identification of a broader framework for the understanding of young people's participation and politics. In the absence of in-depth fieldwork this project is heavily based upon a critical analysis of current and past literature in fields of study including youth studies, cultural studies, music, politics, civic identity, social movements and the various spaces between these fields. Knowledge of events and activities is also drawn from journalistic accounts and less formal sources such as music websites, flyers and album sleeves. Through reconsidering the dominant discourses and theoretical frameworks within which young people's political participation is conceptualised, a broader conception of political participation is offered. The significance of young people's own perspectives of politics and participation is emphasised. The importance of considering both local and global influences upon the form and content of young people's political participation is stressed. It is argued that young people's use of music, through both production and reception, and with varying degrees of intent and specificity of meaning, should be interpreted as having political relevance and as contributing to the form and content of young people's collective and individual political identifications. Contemporary political institutions and discourses need to broaden their scope to include the multiple and diverse modes of political expression and participation found in numerous places. Differences in the type of participation favoured and the issues most relevant, based upon age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class, physical ability, culture, style, taste, or any other sources of difference present in society, need to be valued and negotiated fairly in decision-making processes. If governments in advanced industrial societies are to achieve higher levels of participation in their democratic political systems they need to come some way towards accepting forms of participation that occur through music. They also need to encourage the processes that facilitate the construction of politically active identifications associated with young people's use of music.

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