sunday sociological song

Is "I google you" the new "I love you"?

In a recent interview for the French website OWNI, I hinted at how our information-intensive environment changes the way romantic relationships are created – and dissolved. Finding your significant other, as well as breaking up with him/her, becomes a cognitive task, as well as an emotional one. Consider Google, and how it can be used to either collect information about someone you just met at a party, or to passively stalk your ex. Love nowadays – as Cyrano de Bergerac would put it – is “a  rose-dot on the ‘i’ of ‘I google you'”.

Title: I google you
Artist: Amanda Palmer
Lyrics: Neil Gaiman

I google you
late at night when I don’t know what to do
I find photos
you’ve forgotten
you were in
put up by your friends


You know you are part of a subculture when… (Sunday Sociological Song)

Emo-goths, campus jocks, hardcore rockers, leather queers, computer geeks, superhero buffs… you probably know at least one member of a subculture. Hell, you probably ARE a member of a subculture.

Well, in social sciences we’ve been studying you and your friends for years. We even have a set of established theoretical references. Antonio Gramsci’s ‘cultural hegemony’ (1930). David Riesman’s cultural majority/subversive subcultures split (1950). Dick Hebdige’ ‘style’ as an identity-building device (1979). Serious stuff, you see. And then we have Pixies frontman Black Francis, who in 1991 wrote this song, which pretty much summarizes the entire research field in a simple message: “It’s all about the clothes you wear to impress the person you fancy, and the drugs you use to facilitate sexual intercourse”. Damn straight social analysis.


R.I.P. Sandro Roventi (1947-2010) (Sunday Sociological Song)

Italian sociologist Sandro Roventi left us. Yesterday he was put to rest in the cemetery of  Lambrate (Milan). Sandro was the person who introduced me to sociology (after being trained as an economist). Passionate, funny, politically unpredictable, lucid, generous: he was all these things and much more. He started his career during the Italian Years of Lead. After the European Consortium for Political Research published his Italy and Terrorism in the 1970s (1980) he became the target of unwanted attention from both the political police and the Red Brigades. The epitome of a generation of social scientists / activists steering through a time of political unrest and de facto civil war.

The first lesson of his Sociology class went something like: “Ok kids. To make a champagne molotov all you need is a bottle, alcohol and a cloth…” – and after looking at our dumbfounded faces he would go on introducing us to the notions of conflict, labour, social justice, etc. We became friends eventually. He supervised my tesi di laurea. He wrote the preface to my first book. Until I left Italy I was a regular guest at his dinner parties. Sometimes, we would listen to music. I remember he loved this song. I love it, too.



Brazilian band given a high dose of X-ray for the sake of art (Special Sociological Song)

The best illustration of occupational hazard? Maybe this impressive video of the song Anormal by the Brazilian band Pato Fu: just a few musicians  playing in a studio – only they are given X-ray all throughout the recording session!

Ok, ok, I’ve been cheating a bit. Actually only their instruments have been scanned in a X-ray machine. The humans were just rendered with CGI. But, hey, I’m trying to make a point here, and maybe suggest this issue of the Health Sociology Review focussing on the impact of neo-liberal policies on workplace health

Anyhow, enjoy the song, and practice your portuguese with the lyrics.



Breaking News: The Media Manipulate You (Sunday Sociological Song)

Here’s for another episode of our trans-blog ongoing series Sunday Sociological Song. You know the rules by now: one sociological concept or book + one song to go with it. This time the book is Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988) by Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman – and the song is Bad Day by REM.


When you listen to Russian music, you are downloading anarchy (Sociological Songs Special)

Let’s try something different: a Sociological Songs Special, completely focusing on a single band. And the band is Grazhdanskaya Oborona (Гражданская Оборона, “Civil Defense” in Russian), a landmark USSR punk number from the 1980s [1]. Now I know what you think. But please, suspend your disbelief. The former Soviet Union had, despite repression, a flourishing punk scene. Just have a look at this picture gallery of retro-crested, mirror-shaded, pin-pierced vodka-drinking rockers. Then we’ll talk. And as we are talking, please also have a look at this impressive media archive, where you can download an incredible amount of original recordings, bootlegs, and pictures.

As legend has it, Grazhdanskaya Oborona was the mindchild of Yegor Letov (1964-2008), the self-styled “psychedelic” poet and musician from Omsk, Siberia. Letov always had a talent for controversy. Which might explain why he started his career as an anarchist under a communist regime and ended up, after the fall of the Berlin wall, founding the National Bolshevik Party, a right-wing/left-wing (?) political organization whose symbol is everything but unequivocal. But this is a story for another time…

Like for many other punk bands, Grazhdanskaya Oborona’s songs were a mix of hard rock, noise, ska (sometimes), and unbecoming lyrics. A good example is probably the ironical (and definitely NSFW) винтовка – это праздник (The rifle, what a party)


What has country music ever done for urban sociology? (Sunday Sociological Song)

Ready for another installment of our cross-blog Sunday Sociological Song? This week, I was looking for a song illustrating Nels Anderson’s classic, The Hobo: The Sociology of the Homeless Man (1923).  Now of course, the first thought goes to Like a Hobo by Charlie Winston. But sincerely, that was too obvious a choice.

Instead I picked an old Merle Haggard‘s hit, I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am. I’m sure you will appreciate the irony of a country musician so thoroughly conveying the atmosphere of the “urban jungle” of Chicago.