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Hearing sectarianism: understanding Scottish sectarianism as song

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Simon McKerrell


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This article is an attempt to understand how sectarian views in the public domain are constructed through the mediatisation of a highly contentious sectarian song. In 2011, a number of songs were banned by the Scottish Police Service and individuals arrested for performing them. Rarely have the objects of musical experience including songs, tunes, certain instruments or performance contexts been criminalised in the contemporary world, and particularly in late modern Western democratic states. But there has been a very recent, widespread and vigorous debate in Scotland over sectarianism and, in particular, over the performance of sectarian songs. With reference to a case study of The Famine Song, I will show how the song, its performance at football matches, and subsequent mediatisation within the national press have clustered and polarised sectarian difference. Using critical discourse analysis, I examine the lyrical content, context, performance and subsequent reception and mediatisation of the song in the press, to demonstrate how cultural performance can construct sectarian difference in the public imagination.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McKerrell S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Critical Discourse Studies

Year: 2012

Volume: 9

Issue: 4

Pages: 363-374

Print publication date: 30/08/2012

ISSN (print): 1740-5904

ISSN (electronic): 1740-5912

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/17405904.2012.713315


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