Constructions of identity through music in extreme-right subcultures
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Stroud, Joseph James Iain
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This thesis examines the musical cultures associated with extreme-right politics, considering not only what this music projects about extreme-right ideology, but also the various ways in which music functions as part of a political subculture. This analysis extends beyond the stereotypical extreme-right music associated with the skinhead subculture, often referred to as Oi!, to incorporate extreme-right engagement with genres such as metal, folk, country and classical music. The chapters explore various aspects of identity—including race, sexuality, gender and class—and their significance to and reflection through extreme-right music, as manifested in genre choices, lyrics, album artwork and the features of the music itself. The thesis also considers the way in which less explicit content is produced and the motivation behind this, the importance of myth and fantasy in extreme-right music, and the way that the conspiracist mindset—which is prevalent, albeit not homogeneous, in extreme-right culture—is articulated both in extreme-right music and in the interpretation of mainstream music as antagonistic to extreme-right goals. Music is significant to extreme-right politics for a number of reasons. It is generally understood to be an effective tool in the indoctrination and recruitment of individuals into extreme-right ideology and politics, which is why music is sometimes freely distributed, particularly to youths. The very existence of this music can act to legitimise extreme-right views through the implication that they are shared by its producers and audience. Music also acts as an important tool for the imagining of an extreme-right community through its creation of a space to meet and create networks, a function consolidated by the media surrounding music, particularly websites, forums and magazines. As well as constructing the spaces for extreme-right communities, this music plays an important role in identifying the characteristics of those communities, in articulating what it is to be “us” as contrasted to “them.” Analysis of this music suggests that it has the ability to resolve the ideological contradictions which define the extreme right, even as this analysis reveals such contradictions.