Your Choices: A Sociological Playlist

The final edition of our “sociological playlist” July series is made up of songs picked by you. Introduced below, the suggestions have come from our social media followers. Thank you to everyone who sent in their choices. We couldn’t include all of the songs (there were hundreds!), but have included some of the ideas that seemed to go down particularly well. The playlist can be listened to in full here, along with all the series’ playlists on our YouTube channel.

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1. Junior Murvin, “Police and Thieves

‘A pertinent song for too many generations, from Kingston to Notting Hill, from Brixton to Tottenham. This is the soundtrack to anti-racist uprisings against state sanctioned police brutality and a testament to the power of music to build solidarity’ – Naaz Rashid, @naazrashid (University of Sussex).

2. The Slits, “Typical Girls

‘There are some great sociological facts about the 70s punk band The Slits; in her autobiography, Viv Albertine writes that their first single, Typical Girls (1979) takes its name from a sociology book (possibly Christine Griffin’s?); Albertine was taught by Laura Mulvey at LCP and their single Spend, Spend, Spend is about a woman who wins the Football Pools. At the British Library Punk 1976-1978 exhibition in 2016, Albertine defaced a male-centric blurb about the history of the punk movement to include key contributions of The Slits and other women punk bands. Typical Girls, to me, is a timeless protest against the objectification and marginalisation of women within and beyond punk’ – Emma Casey @EmmaHCasey (Northumbria University).

3. Bruce Springstein, “The River

Picked by Lyne Marie Larocque.

4. Los Prisioneroes, “El Baile de los que Sobran

‘An anthem of protest, this song was written and musicalized by Chilean rock genius Jorge González in 1986. El baile de los que sobran denounces the social and educational inequality in Chile during the dictatorship, where many were left with few or none further expectations -“kicking stones” (pateando piedras) – regardless of their effort and dedication, the song claims. El baile de los que sobran acquired renewed protagonism during the social outburst of October 2019 as thousands sang it while they marched in the streets’ – Marjorie Murray @murreta (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile).

5. Marvin Gaye, “Inner City Blues

‘For me the song is not only one of the best, most soulful, of Marvin Gaye’s career but it speaks to the anomic continuum of imposed inequality, deprivation, strain, racism, and police brutality of inner city life in late modern capitalism. It has such relevance for the world we see around us now’ – Jason Warr @WarrCriminology.

6. Black Flag, “Police Story

‘The relationship between political consciousness and punk rock has always been a deep and mutual one. It is in that spirit that Black Flag’s Police Story offers a timeless take on urban despair and police violence, which speaks as much to contemporary political conditions as it does to those it first emerged out of.’ – Jasbinder S. Nijjar, PhD student.

7. Lowkey, “Soundtrack to the Struggle

Picked by Jana Bacevic.

8. Tracey Chapman, “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution

Picked by Tim Robbins.

9. Linton Kwesi Johnson, “Sonny’s Lettah

‘I chose Sonny’s Lettah (Anti-Sus Poem) by Linton Kwesi Johnson as a great sociological (and criminological) song because it documents a period, practice and law that is taught and studied, and is sadly very relevant today in the context of continuing police (and wider state and systemic) racism and protests against it. I also chose it because it combines an analysis, a personal experience or testimony, and a protest against inequality and injustice, as the best sociology should’ – Aaron Winter, University of East London.

10. NAS, “If I Ruled the World

‘I selected this song because it’s reflective, idealistic, and imaginative; and it speaks to how residents in overly policed and under resourced communities envision their lives in an ideal state. What our communities could be…’ – Lindsey M. McDougle @LindseyMcDougle, Rutgers Newark.

11. Gang of Four, “Why Theory?

‘A tune that urges us to be critically aware of culture and society.’ – Karon Blixa Jansson.

12. GLOC-9 feat. Ebe Dancel, “Sirena

‘The song Sirena, sung by GLOC-9 and Ebe Dancel, deals with the issue of equality for the LGBTQIA2S+ community in the Philippines and about their everyday struggle in society. Sirena is told from the perspective of a homosexual man who metaphorically sees himself as a mermaid’ – @RalphC92 PhD candidate in Sociology at University of Vienna.

13. Rage Against the Machine, “Sleep Now in the Fire

Picked by Swasti.

14. The Fall, “English Scheme

‘A great song, the lyrics paint a weird and twisting picture of working class life in England at the turn of the 1980’s. Distant today, but with flashes of recognition for some of us’ – Daniel Grey, Lecturer in Sociology

15. Brotherhood, “The Monkey That Became President

This funk track is an unlikely reimagining of a 1972 country hit for which the band retained nothing of the original except the lyrics. The narrator recounts a dream in which a monkey becomes a universally adored politician who unites society in a bipartisan outpouring of solidarity. Given our contemporary political moment, the song is prescient in the first sense and wildly off target in the latter. One line certainly rings true: “it was more than weary sociologists could stand”’ – Verdine Etoria

The playlist can be listened to in full here.

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