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Music & Society

Leiden University and University of the Arts The Hague via Coursera

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Music plays an important role in our daily lives and is woven into the fabric of society. We listen to music while alone or in company, in a dance club or at home, through simple headphones or via high-end speakers, as background or as foreground, after we get up or before we go to bed. Music accompanies us when we are traveling, doing sports, shopping, working or relaxing. This omnipresence of music raises several questions: how does music affect our lives? What is the relation between the society we live in and the role, function, and position of music within that society? How is music influenced by and does music influence social, political, economic, technological, and multiple other developments?

Do these questions trigger you? Music and Society provides a thorough introduction to the various ways in which music and society are connected through engaging lectures, insightful interviews, challenging assignments, interesting readings, and of course a lot of musical examples. The course aims at increasing your insights on where, how and why we listen to music, how music contributes to shaping our identity, how music forms, expresses, and subverts political ideas, and how music affects our norms and values.


Welcome to the Course
Great that you are joining us! In this course you will learn about the various roles, functions, and positions music can have in our contemporary society. Before you start this course we invite you to first go through the introduction and introduce yourself in the forum to meet your fellow learners. If you encounter any difficulties while studying, please let us know in the forum. For technical difficulties or questions regarding the course certificate, you can always contact the Coursera Learner Helpdesk. Good luck and we hope you will enjoy studying in this course!

Music and Atmosphere
What do you think about background music? Does it disturb you or does it create a nice atmosphere? Do you think there is too much music played all day long? And why do people play music? In this first module we will basically discuss and reflect on three interrelated items: (1) How and why music is omnipresent in our contemporary society; (2) Music's influence on the specific atmosphere of a space; (3) How music affects and is affected by other societal developments.

Music and Identity
How does music affect identity and how does identity influence music? Is music only an expression of personal taste or is there more to say about this relation? In this module we will discuss and explore the relation between music and identity. We'll do this by discussing (1) how music influences personal identity and (2) how music influences collective identity and (3) how the 'structure of society' influences music as well as identity.

Music and Politics
In this module we will investigate and discuss the relation between music and politics: how music affects politics and how it is affected by politics. Music may support political organizations and governmental institutions, it has the power to discipline the behavior of groups and individuals, but it can also act as a form of protest against a political status quo or dominant (political) discourses.

Music and Ethics
In this module we will explore the relation between music and ethics. Music influences behavior and certain judgments of behavior are ethical judgments. We will explore the relation between aesthetic good and ethical good music. We will discuss how hospitality can evoke a fruitful attitude towards music. We will discuss the role of music in human flourishing.

Taught by

Marcel Cobussen and Hafez Ismaïli M'Hamdi


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  • Martijn Belgraver

    Martijn Belgraver completed this course.

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