9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN02 Sociology of the Arts

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Arts and the Shapping of Identities Building II, C6.08

Music as human identity indicator

Global instability is a feature of the modern world. This is particularly evident during the economic crisis. Any human being feels instable not only because of economic problems, but also because of the "unclear" demographic indicators such as gender, race, family, place of residence, which were previously unquestioned. The problem of personal identity becomes more significant. The culture in general and music to be more precise can serve in order to reduce the tension of instability and to form personal identity. Immaterial values of culture can become the vectors of support to displaced human identity. Filled with emotions music can become an effective means of reducing stress. We can speak about various kinds and genres of music, however in this presentation we concentrate only on folk music. In post-soviet empire the promotion of national music performed by ethnographic bands, was a means of expression of sovereignty in order to resist the implementation of denationalized soviet model of society, but the significance of folk music has not been underestimated in post-communist Europe.
We can distinguish at least two main aspects. Firstly, it is a form of resistance and a counterbalance towards denationalizing cosmopolitan uniformity. However, this does not mean archaism, as folk music is not just a repetition of the past forms of art but also a constant innovation. This is especially important for active promoters and performers of folk music. Secondly, this is a challenge to mass culture and consumerist society in general. Even high quality mass culture serves only for-profit aims and the commoditization of society. The preservation of national identity is especially important for small countries such as the Baltics: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Music, and especially Song and Dance festivals, which are unique in the region, help us to define ourselves as Lithuanian, Latvian or Estonian. On the other hand, folk music is important to ethnic groups as well. It helps to maintain the sense of national identity to Polish, Russian, Jewish, Karaite and Tartar, and other peoples residing Lithuania.