songs about sociology

Because there have not been any posts for two days, I will take one for the team.

Ok, there are plenty of songs about the law, which is my thing. “I Fought The Law and the Law Won,” for example. Also, Kanye West’s “Spaceship” makes me think of employment discrimination law for these lyrics:

If my manager insults me again I will be assaulting him
After I f**k the manager up then I’m gonna shorten the register up
Let’s go back, back to the Gap
Look at my check, wasn’t no scratch
So if I stole, wasn’t my fault
Yeah I stole, never got caught
They take me to the back and pat me
Askin’ me about some khakis
But let some black people walk in
I bet they show off their token blackie
Oh now they love Kanye, let’s put him all in the front of the store

Yes, I am weird. But I am hip! Sort of.

So, tell me sociology rock stars, what songs make you think of sociology?

24 thoughts on “songs about sociology”

  1. Once you get in to Gender stuff, there is plenty of material. But the king of all sociology bands will always be, for me, Rage Against The Machine. Especially their first album — a classic.

    This was probably not even current ten years ago when I was in grad school, so … not so hip, here. Oh well.


  2. Oddly enough, I started trying to make a Sociology mix cd. The idea would be to have each song represent a great work in Sociology/Social Theory. I had a lot of trouble with the classical folks though – Marx should be easy, but I didn’t come up with anything yet.

    For Foucault I was thinking “Master and Servant” and “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode. For Baudrillard I was thinking of, ironically, the Matrix theme. For Latour perhaps Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science”. And lastly, for Granovetter, “Why don’t you get a job.”

    But this CD was more of a theme cd and less songs that already reminded me of Sociology.

    As an aside, I really love the Dead Kennedys “I Fought the Law (And I Won)”. An excellent cover/reinterpretation.


  3. Ooh, Public Enemy was good too. To get even more old and unhip, here’s an excerpt (from Big Daddy Kane I think) that echoes the Kanye (love it):

    When I’m cruisin in my Volvo, cops harass me
    They never ride past me, they hound me like Lassie.
    First thing they say is “where’d you steal her,”
    Then they assume that I’m a drug dealer.
    Ha – that just makes me wanna laugh,
    ’cause no, I’m a star, and your son got my autograph.

    Seems like gender and race inequalities get more coverage in popular music than class does. Hm.


  4. Neat suggestions, peeps. Now I have another question: WTF is up with the “Possibly related posts”?! Is this a wordpress thing?! I didn’t add those, and I certainly wouldn’t have chosen those sites. I don’t mind instant trackback, but those seem spammy. Arrrrgh. Jeremy, what do we do?!


  5. I TA’d for a crim class last year that had an extra credit assignment that involved students picking a song and analyzing it using the course concepts – it was pretty sweet. I never, ever want to hear “Ridin’ Dirty” again, though.

    belle: I have listened to that exact song and had the exact same thoughts. Pretty much everything Kanye sings sounds like sociology to me.


  6. Found this here:

    It’s a new feature. It was announced here. You should have a link to that announcement on your dashboard. If you (as many others) don’t like the feature, you can turn it off by going to design-extras and clicking the box to disable the feature.

    There are quite a few other threads on this issue and the sum total is that if you don’t like it, you have to turn it off in your own blog.


  7. “Seems like gender and race inequalities get more coverage in popular music than class does.”

    I think the songs about class differences are found in country music(e.g. Country Club). Arguably, they sing about cultural differences between country and city folk, but this difference is rooted in social class. The difference is that the songs aren’t about inequality, except maybe to say country is better.


  8. for class, how about jesse winchester’s “tell me why you like roosevelt” , which i regularly find myself humming.

    or anything by billy bragg, especially on the album “talking with the taxman about poetry”, or what was the name of his song about the middleclass woman slumming with the working class guy?

    Mad Slave, i like the idea of analyzing song lyrics. that might be my next assignment addition.


  9. The first time I heard the word “sociological” was listening to the “West Side Story” soundtrack (over and over again) as a child. So, here, I offer probably the dorkiest example you’ll see all day:

    Officer Krupke:

    A-RAB: (As Psychiatrist) Yes!
    Officer Krupke, you’re really a slob.
    This boy don’t need a doctor, just a good honest job.
    Society’s played him a terrible trick,
    And sociologic’ly he’s sick!

    I am sick!

    We are sick, we are sick,
    We are sick, sick, sick,
    Like we’re sociologically sick!


  10. One of the Wisconsin campus newspapers also recently interviewed a Marxist rapper called Son of Nun:

    I think the Palestine song’s his catchiest. His website is also advertising a CD called Peace Not War vol. II which sounds promising for potential sociological insight.


  11. briand0n0van: that was my first thought, as well, dorky as it may be. Of course, West Side Story is my favorite movie of all time, so I’m not surprised.

    My second thought is totally inacessible to most posters on here as it’s in Swedish. Dr. Kosmos entire oevre. The band deal with both gender & class issues quite a bit. Their first album was called “Socialmedicin” (Social Medicine).


  12. So this is my first post ever—yay me. I’m going to have to say “Juicy” by Notorious BIG and “Changes” by Tupac have always been Sociological favorites.


  13. I second the mention of Dead Kennedys. The best popular culture paper ever written in my Social Inequality class was an analysis of a bunch of Dead Kennedys songs and it got me hooked.


  14. @carlyconfused — Thanks! I’m glad I’m not the only weirdo. While the others are citing punk and hip hop, I think we’re bringing important Musical knowledge to the table. How about performing gender in “We Both Reached for the Gun” from “Chicago?” Anyone? Anyone?


  15. First time posting here!
    I agree with Anomie that country music is great for class critiques. On the alt/indie side, a song by the obscure band, The Mr. T Experience, called “Institutionalized Mysogyny” has some good sociological stuff. Here are a few choice lyrics:

    I’m not complaining, I’m just figuring out
    how everything left us behind
    I got my problems, I’m aware of them
    I’ll take care of them, never you mind
    you’re still repeating pre-recorded things
    they used to say in universities
    and books on left wing politics and law
    about underlying structures
    that so far as they mean anything
    still won’t support the personal
    connections that you draw
    that’s all that stands between
    my baby and me


    Michelle, ma belle:
    ton beau, Michel Foucault
    a Foucault dependent is always ready to go
    I think we’re alone
    I might have known
    she’s got Chomsky on the phone



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