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Soundscapes of feminist protests in London: collective identity construction through sonic resonance

Kong, Fuk Yin Jessica (2021) Soundscapes of feminist protests in London: collective identity construction through sonic resonance. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Soundscapes of Feminist Protests in London: Collective Identity Construction through Sonic Resonance Aiming to fill the gaps in sound studies of protests, and contribute to understand the relationship between rationality, meaning, affect, and emotion in social movement studies, in this thesis, I explore the role of, sound, rationality, meaning, affect, and emotion in creating a collective identity, within Feminist Protests in London. Based on, in-depth interviews, participant observation, sonic ethnography, and the analysis of sonic diaries, this research question was investigated from, organizational, sonically descriptive, and participative perspectives. From an organizational perspective, and with the intent to build collective identity, sound is strategically used to produce Sonic Performances including Collective Singing, Music Broadcasting, Speech, and Drumming, which taken together constitute the Feminist protest soundscapes. The meanings of songs and speeches are articulated in such a way as to connect and embed participating individuals to the overall protest frame of gender inequality. Meanwhile, emotionality and affectability of musical styles, voices of speakers, and drum sounds are strategically considered, to unite individuals in collective experiences. From a sonically descriptive angle, and via protest soundscape analysis, it was concluded that the meanings of the general protest frame and the expression of collective emotions and affects correspond, which dominate the protest soundscapes at once. It generates a collective, rational voice, responding to sonic surroundings including the leader’s calls, other participant’s sonic contributions, and the sounds of opponents. From a participative point of view, by partaking in Sonic Performances, participants relate protest claim such as, unequal pay, and women migrant's injustice, to the general protest claim of gender inequality. Furthermore, being affected by positive emotions and sonic affect, participants felt that they were sharing similar experiences, thereby creating a sense of belonging. In this process, however, rational reflection takes place, as some participants chose not to attune (align themselves) with the sonic collective, if and when the meanings articulated in Sonic Performances misrepresented their identity. As rationality, meaning, affect, and emotion resonate in Sonic Performances, Sonic Resonance was conceptualized to explain, the sonic strategies of activists, the fabric of the protest soundscapes, and the process of collective identity formation through the resonating experience of rationality, meaning, affect, and emotion, as enabled by the protest soundscapes. These entities are mutually reflecting and dialectically reinforcing in sound, constructing collective identity. In sum, this thesis contributes to explore 1) the relationship between the rational and the affective dimensions of contentious action; and 2) the interaction between affect, meaning, rationality, and emotion in exploring collective identity formation, especially from an experiential account.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2021 Fuk Yin (Jessica) Kong
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Supervisor: Cammaerts, Bart

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