We are very glad to roll out a new section on the Economic Sociology and Political Economy community blog: Songs of Society and Market.
Given the centrality of economic transactions to our lives, it is no surprise that they constitute a common motive in music. Money and debt, work and unemployment, wealth and poverty, commercial guile and gullibility, free trade and regulation, as well as the many consequences of changes in economic forces populate lyrics. We sing to evoke the joys and pains of our daily undertakings working, buying, selling, borrowing, lending, saving, having and not having. We sing about the prestige, position and recognition that comes with wealth, and thus our desire to have plenty, we lament the social consequences of poverty, deprivation and debt and, sometimes, we sing for change, reform and revolution.
Our new initiative intends to showcase, in monthly installments, musical representations of the economic across time and space.
This section will be conducted by Dr. André Vereta Nahoum.
André Vereta Nahoum is a FAPESP Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Brazilian Centre for Analysis and Planning (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and affiliated to the Economic Sociology Workshop at the University of Sao Paulo, where he is also an occasional professor. He holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Sao Paulo and the International Max Planck Research School on the Political and Social Constitution of the Economy, at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, in Cologne, Germany. He is interested in the meanings and values people bestow to their everyday economic transactions and the objects they trade. In particular, his research attempts to retrace how identities are shaped amidst such transactions and associated to the materiality they entail, in a process in which markets and subjects are co-constituted. Or how markets create people as people create markets.
Feel free to email André suggestions of songs reflecting the themes of this section.
“Money, you’ve got lots of friends”
Recorded in May, 1941, Billie Holiday’s God Bless the Child is one of her best known songs, recorded by many after Lady Day’s original version. Composed with Arthur Herzog Jr, the song combines a vague biblical reference, quoted in the opening verses, with some popular wisdom about the social consequences of possessing money and the dynamics of accumulation. Allegedly inspired by an argument Holiday had with her mother over money, the song asserts that wealth also means a wealth of relations: friends come with money and leave once pockets are empty. It also states her perception on capitalist dynamics: “the strong gets more/While the weak ones fade”. Thus, the song concludes, blessed are the children who have their own (money).