Sociology, as a practice, can be applied to almost every human exchange. The realm of lyrical song is no different, offering numerous venues for sociological perspectives to be expressed by the artist(s) about the shared environment around them. For the purposes of exemplifying the possible connections which can be made in this context we chose two unique songs: “Prayer of the Refugee” by Rise Against and “The Dreaming Tree” by the Dave Matthews Band. In the following examination, both songs demonstrate the diverse principles of the sociological perspective on a macro and micro level, respectively.
In the song “Prayer of the Refugee” by Rise Against, the listener is given a conflict theory on a macro level basis with overarching themes of globalization and the struggle of two very different socioeconomic groups. The chorus reflects their repeated reference to industrialized western influence in third world countries: “Don't hold me up now/ I can stand my own ground/ I don't need your help now/ You will let me down, down, down (“Rise Against,” n.d.)!” This line is a depiction of what the workers in these circumstances feel towards the power elite who oppress them by having disproportionate control over the political and wealth system (Benokraitis, 2010). In response, the workers openly demand to retain their sense of esteem by refusing the assistance the system provides. This suggests that power hungry corporations do more harm than help in undeveloped nations, causing struggle and immense tension.
Furthermore, the voices of the underclass, or the foreign people incorporated into the lowest rung of the U.S. social ladder, define their acknowledged self in the following stanza, “We are the angry and the desperate/ The hungry, and the cold/ We are the ones who kept quiet/ And always did what we were told” (“Rise Against,” n.d.). This separates their in-group, in which there is a sharing of collective identity, from the wealthy out-group whom they negatively consider as outsiders (Benokraitis, 2010). Additionally these lines are highly reminiscent of the age-old war between the conflict theorists’ construction of the haves and the have-nots (Benokratis 2010). The people who kept quiet are still being kept hungry and cold, even though they are obedient. They are beginning to get fed up with the system and are looking for a way for things to change, revealing the conditions of poverty in which these people exist in which approach a state of absolute poverty when basic survival needs cannot be satisfied (Benokraitis, 2010). As clearer lines are drawn across the socioeconomic spectrum, listeners begin to better understand the large event taking place from a conflict perspective.
In the next stanza we are given a more structural sense of the system; “But we've been sweating while you slept so calm/ In the safety of your home/ We've been pulling out the nails that hold up/ Everything you've known”(“Rise Against,” n.d.). This is a direct allusion to...