Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date


Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Jessica Sternfeld


Some of the most influential music and art emerges during civil, social, and political unrest. Music, in particular, is a critical aspect of almost every culture, and protest music is even more influential because it can unify causes. For example, when the Troubles in Northern Ireland gained global attention, many well-known artists released commercially successful songs relating to this phenomenon. Musicians worldwide, including Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Elton John, The Cranberries, and U2, implemented music as a reaction against the social injustice and violence occurring in Northern Ireland. Other songs, like Tina Turner's "Simply the Best," became anthems for the Ulster Volunteer Force, and NWA's "Fuck tha Police" for Irish Republican prisoners. This shows that while certain music is written for specific political purposes, most research proves that how music is interpreted or perceived is often out of the artist's control. Most of the music people consider "protest music" was not written to be a protest song. This paper will analyze how and why music serves as a creative outlet for social protest, focusing specifically on the music that emerged from The Troubles in Northern Ireland from the 1960s to the 1990s and the global musical reaction to this civil unrest.


Presented at the Fall 2023 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.

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