Thesis

California punk rock: a content analysis of political themes in song lyrics pre and post 9/11

Thesis (M.A., Sociology)--California State University, Sacramento, 2018.

This study analyzed punk rock song lyrics that were released between the years 1996-2006, from two California record companies, Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph Records. The purpose of doing so was to find political themes, during the Pre and Post 9/11 Eras, while using a content analysis research method. By critically analyzing and interpreting song lyrics, this allowed me to highlight how music scenes, like punk rock, can be outspoken towards inequalities, corruption, and political issues. Specifically, I identified seven political themes that reflect punk’s anti-hegemonic values, which are rejecting the status quo and opposing political corruption. My research questions aimed to find how particular regions and political eras play a role in the construction of lyrics with political content. Although punk rock has always been critical of the status quo and conventional values, my argument is that certain regions, for example, California, and political eras, like the Post-9/11 Era, generate a greater influx of political content from punk bands. As a result, song lyrics, from the Post-9/11 Era, contained more political themes than the Pre-9/11 Era’s song lyrics. Music’s influence on society is too significant to overlook. Studying song lyrics gives us an opportunity to explore and better understand new perspectives, attitudes, and ideas about social and political factors that influence our behaviors and lives.

This study analyzed punk rock song lyrics that were released between the years 1996-2006, from two California record companies, Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph Records. The purpose of doing so was to find political themes, during the Pre and Post 9/11 Eras, while using a content analysis research method. By critically analyzing and interpreting song lyrics, this allowed me to highlight how music scenes, like punk rock, can be outspoken towards inequalities, corruption, and political issues. Specifically, I identified seven political themes that reflect punk’s anti-hegemonic values, which are rejecting the status quo and opposing political corruption. My research questions aimed to find how particular regions and political eras play a role in the construction of lyrics with political content. Although punk rock has always been critical of the status quo and conventional values, my argument is that certain regions, for example, California, and political eras, like the Post-9/11 Era, generate a greater influx of political content from punk bands. As a result, song lyrics, from the Post-9/11 Era, contained more political themes than the Pre-9/11 Era’s song lyrics. Music’s influence on society is too significant to overlook. Studying song lyrics gives us an opportunity to explore and better understand new perspectives, attitudes, and ideas about social and political factors that influence our behaviors and lives.

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