Singing Out of Pain: Protest Songs and Social Mobilization

Arden Henley
Friday 25 November 2022

Payerhim, Marek. The Polish Review 57, no. 1 (2012): 5-31.

This article provides a fascinating history of protest songs and their connection to political opposition in Poland in the 1970s and 1980s. Protest songs were used in more traditional contexts, such as strikes and protests, as well as in churches and rock music to build discourse and a counter-narrative to government propaganda. It provides an intriguing historical example of how counternarratives and ideas about peace are spread and gain popularity, particularly in states which utilize propaganda.

The decision to format protest and dissent in song form is an interesting one, especially given the contexts in which the songs were disseminated. Music is a uniting force, and one in which people come together and cooperate to make and produce. The contexts for singing the protest songs–in church and in popular music–are both locations and circumstances which were created to bring joy. By linking protest music and its joyful contexts, we effectively link joy to peace. Associating peace with things like joy, music, communal experiences, spirituality, and fun gives us a positive outlook on peace and encourages us to pursue it.


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