Using a Socially Conscious Song from Either the Caribbean and or Elsewhere Demonstrate How This Song Express Discontent with Existing Social Conditions and a Mistrust of Those in Positions. What Effect If Any Does Such

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  • Topic: Sociology, Frankfurt School, Buju Banton
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  • Published : March 21, 2013
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“I am living while I'm living to the father I will pray, only he knows how we get through every day, with all the hike in the price, arm and leg we have to pay, while our leaders play…” Myrie et al (1995, track 5). This song “Untold Stories” sung by Mark Anthony Myrie, 1973, popularly known as ‘Buju Banton,’ a powerful Jamaican dancehall, ragga, and reggae musician. He has also recorded Pop and Dance songs, as well as songs dealing with political topics. Banton is politically outspoken and highly influenced by Marcus Garvey. These lyrics stated above revealed substantial discontent with existing social conditions and a robust mistrust of those in high positions.

However linking this with critical theory, which is described by Bleich (1977) as composing largely of criticisms of various aspects of social and intellectual life, but its ultimate goal, is to reveal more accurately the nature of society (Ritzer, 2010, p. 282). A critical theory is adequate only if it meets three criteria: it must be explanatory, practical, and normative, all at the same time. That is, it must explain what is wrong with current social reality, identify the actors to change it, and provide both clear norms for criticism and achievable practical goals for social transformation. Critical theorists do not say that economic determinists were wrong in focusing on the economic realm but that they should have been concerned with other aspects of social life as well, the critical school seeked to rectify this imbalance by focusing its attention on the cultural realm (Fuery and Mansfield, 2000; Schroyer, 1973:33).

This is shown plainly in Banton’s lyrics in his song “Untold Stories,” he speaks about these untold aspects of social life that has never been brought to the attention of others, conditions such as the inflation and rising of daily living expenses, the fact that at the end of the day your expenses will always outweigh your earnings, also that the labour he has to pay seems as if he has to sacrifice a body part just to meet the expenses of life. “With all the hike in the price, arm and leg we have to pay…” (Banton, 1995). Focusing on other aspects of social life according to the critical theorists is what Banton’s song is trying to bring to the forefront; he tries to enlighten the minds of others with relation to poverty in his lyrics where he sings about the clothes on his back containing countless eyeholes, and one of the major unyielding points he made as he continued to sing is that “Opportunity is a scarce commodity…” Opportunities are allocated to those who can afford it, Banton continues in his plight saying that “Those who can afford to run will run…” (1995). Even though you sacrifice and give your last expenses to gain an education, the opportunities are still given to those who can afford it, being educated does not mean that you are guaranteed a space in the labour force, “Filled up with education yet don't own a payroll…” (Banton, 1995)

Critical theorists also focus on the philosophical underpinnings of scientific inquiry especially positivism (Bottomore, 1984; Fuller1994). Positivists believe that knowledge is inherently neutral. They feel that they can keep human values out of their work. This belief, in turn, leads to the view that science is not in the position of advocating any specific form of social action. Positivism is opposed by the critical school on various grounds (Sewart, 1978). For one thing, positivism tends to reify the social world and see it as a natural process. The critical theorists prefer to focus on human activity as well as on the ways in which such activity affects larger social structures. In short, positivism loses sight of the actors (Habermas, 1971), reducing them to passive entities determined by “natural forces.” Given their belief in the distinctiveness of the actor, the critical theorists would not accept the idea that the general laws of science can be applied without question to human...
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