Music and cultural politics: ideology and resistance in Singapore

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This paper focuses on popular music written and produced by Singaporeans to illustrate the nature of social relationships based on ideological hegemony and resistance. Analysis is based on two groups of music: 'national' songs supported by the government in the 'Sing Singapore' programme; and songs brought together in 'Not the Singapore song book'. Interviews with local lyricists and analysis of video productions provide supplementary information. Music is used by the ruling élite to perpetuate certain ideologies aimed at political socialization and to inculcate a civil religion that directs favour and fervour towards the nation. Music is also a form of cultural resistance against state policies and some social-cultural norms. Music embodies social commentaries on aspects of Singapore society, such as controversial government policies and the ostentatious lifestyle of many Singaporeans.

Keywords: Singapore; cultural politics; ideology; popular music; resistance

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 1995

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