Songs of the Factory

Songs of the Factory

Pop Music, Culture, and Resistance
  • Shortlist, 2015 Thinking Allowed Ethnography Award (British Sociological Association and British Broadcasting Company)

In Songs of the Factory, Marek Korczynski examines the role that popular music plays in workers' culture on the factory floor. Reporting on his ethnographic fieldwork in a British factory that manufactures window blinds, Korczynski shows how workers make often-grueling assembly-line work tolerable by permeating their workday with pop music on the radio. The first ethnographic study of musical culture in an industrial workplace, Songs of the Factory draws on socio-musicology, cultural studies, and sociology of work, combining theoretical development, methodological innovation, and a vitality that brings the musical culture of the factory workers to life.

Music, Korczynski argues, allows workers both to fulfill their social roles in a regimented industrial environment and to express a sense of resistance to this social order. The author highlights the extensive forms of informal collective resistance within this factory, and argues that the musically informed culture played a key role in sustaining these collective acts of resistance. As well as providing a rich picture of the musical culture and associated forms of resistance in the factory, Korczynski also puts forward new theoretical concepts that have currency in other workplaces and in other rationalized spheres of society.