Sociology Assignment 3 Media and Violence with Music Background Hip-hop music stemmed from a resistance movement in the 1970s.Rap music, one form of hip-hop, became more mainstream in the late 1980s and early 1990? s.historically; this form of hip hop was used to voice extreme opposition of dominant culture and represents the struggle of disadvantaged Black youth in urban ghettos of the South Bronx, and later South Central Los Angeles.
Rap music lyrics have been proven to be extensions of a constant struggle between a dominant White society and the struggle of disadvantaged minorities (mostly Black), to obtain social capital (Martinez 1997).
This resistance to mainstream society has created an oppositional culture. According to Martinez (1997), the Race Relations theory states that oppositional culture consists of subordinate groups, who use parts of their own culture such as values and resources, to oppose the majority or dominant society in order to survive.
Read also Sociology and Social Integration.
Black youth (specifically adolescent males) have formed an oppositional culture because of the disadvantages in their communities, labeled, “urban neglect” (Martinez 1997). This created a resistance that is shown through messages in rap music. Many messages that are portrayed in rap music are often violent in nature, because the artists are speaking about their own communities, where “the despair is pervasive enough to have spawned an oppositional culture, that of „the streets? whose norms are often consciously opposed to those of mainstream society” (Anderson 1994: 82). Violence is so much a part of these disadvantaged communities that a set of informal rules, which polices personal and group behaviors, has been established and many of the lyrics in rap music reflect a code of the street (Elijah Anderson 1994). According to Elijah Anderson (1994), author of the “Code of the Streets,” throughout all the problems that poor, disadvantaged black communities face, violence is the most harmful.
For a black youth in this type of disadvantaged community, Anderson (1994) claims that just living in an environment like this can sculpt a violent identity. Unfortunately these Black youth have no choice but to live by these rules, and accept the amount of violence and crime as a norm that is in their communities. Violence and Media Although rap music embodies a “well-established” culture of violence (Richardson and Scott 2002), violence in the media isn’t only reserved to rap music.
Violent media has been proven to be associated with involvement in violent behavior (Richardson and Scott 2002). Because youth, especially adolescents look to find people as role models, they often subsequently are choosing those rap artists who speak about oppositional culture and violence. Anderson and Cavallaro (2002) found that a part of the way teens identify with lyrics is shown in the aspects of youth (adolescent) identity development. But teen identification isn’t just shaped or influenced by rap music lyrics.
According to the Commission for the Prevention of Youth Violence, by age 18, the average American youth will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence through different media forms (Richardson and Scott 2002). Additionally, a study done by Boxer et al. (2009), tested a diverse group of youth, from a juvenile detention center and an average high school and found that simply a preference for violent media was predictive of personal violence and aggression. They found that even when an individual originally has low aggression, they are still in some way affected by violence in media (Boxer et. l. 2009). Violence in Rap Rap music content however, contains a large amount of violence in comparison with other media outlets. In a study done by Charis E. Kubrin (2005), he found many rap lyrics actually provide justification for violence on the street and a direct link to willingness to use violence to protect or defend identity and reputation. About 65% of all rap songs in his sample referenced a violent theme and violent retaliation was found in 58% of the sample (Kubrin 2005).
Kubrin also found that listeners hold the street code as a normal order to life and that rap lyrics are actual “reproductions of the code that describe black urban street life” (Kubrin 2005:375). He argues it is important to realize that rap is a characterization of urban life. It is clear that as conditions in the inner city have gotten worse in the last 10 years, the prevalence of street code has risen (Anderson 1994). Kubrin states that these conditions have “defined the context in which rap has emerged” (Kubrin 2005:365).
Thus, since violence is extremely prevalent in rap music lyrics, and held highly by those who can identify most with it, perhaps it could have a significant influence on adolescent rap fans of different races. Conclusion Violence in rap music is proven to be pervasive and also, like other media outlets that contain a high amount of aggression and violent acts, it does affect how a youth identifies with it. Lyrics in rap music are a reflection of an oppositional culture and can therefore aid in shaping an adolescent’s violent social identity. Work(s) Cited
Anderson, Elijah. 1994. “Code of the Streets. ” Atlantic Monthly 273(5): 81-94. Martinez, Theresa A. 1997. “Popular Culture as Oppositional Culture: Rap as Resistance. ” Sociological Perspectives 40(2): 265-286. Anderson, K. J and D. Cavallaro. 2002. “Parents or Pop Culture? : Children’s Heroes and Role Models. ” Childhood Education 78(3):161-168. Boxer, Paul, Huesmann, Rowell, Bushman, Brad, O? Brian, Maureen, and Dominic Moceri. 2009. “The Role of Violent Media Preference in Cumulative Developmental Risk for Violence and General Aggression. Journal of Youth and adolescence 38(3): 417-428. Richardson, Jeanita W. , and Kim A. Scott. 2002. “Rap Music and Its Violent Progeny: America’s Culture of Violence in Context. ” The Journal of Negro Education 71(3): 175-192. Kubrin, Charis E. 2006. “I See Death Around the Corner: Nihilism in Rap Music”. Sociological Perspectives 48(4):433-459. Kubrin, Charis E. 2005. “Gangstas, Thugs, and Hustlas: Identity and the Code of the Street in Rap Music. ” Social Problems 52(3): 360-378.