Date of Award
Master of Music (MM)
On September 17, 2011, protestors set up camp in Zuccotti Park in New York's financial district, initiating a 59-day social and political movement known as Occupy Wall Street. Writing about the protest, James C. McKinley Jr. of the New York Times declared that the movement "lacks a melody" compared with protest movements of the previous century. Despite the common perception that little music accompanied the movement, organizers released Occupy This Album: 99 Songs for the 99%, a collection of songs connected with, written for, or written about the Occupy Wall Street movement. This thesis investigates the place of Occupy Wall Street in society through its musicking and through Occupy This Album: 99 Songs or the 99%. Building upon the sociomusicological work of R. Serge Denisoff and the work of Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell, I propose a framework for a categorization of songs through their lyrical content and apply it to the music found on Occupy This Album. Then, using this framework, I determine the potential "progressiveness" of Occupy Wall Street through the modernization theory of Talcott Parsons. I contend that Occupy this Album: 99 Songs for the 99% shows Occupy Wall Street to be a modernizing movement as indicated through its large output of propaganda songs, showing a commitment to communication of diverse knowledge and ideologies and a generalization of value sets. This analysis and its conclusion situate Occupy Wall Street in society through its musical output rather than through its cultural and political effects
Holbrook, Benjamin Scott, "Music and the Movement: Understanding Occupy Wall Street" (2017). Graduate Thesis Collection. 489.