Listening to social movements: The role of sound, rationality, culture, emotion and affect in collective identity construction
My project argues that sound in social movements, including and not limiting to the use of music, which comprises shouting, humming, chanting, singing, the making of noise and rhythm, and music broadcasting, is a mediator constructing and sustaining collective identity in collective actions in contentious politics. It is because sound in social movements continuously activates the relationship between the self and the collective, in rational, cultural, affective and emotional ways. Building on this, I want to argue that sound and collective identity in collective actions are not merely culturally, affectively and emotionally based and connected, as proposed by existing literature (Ash, 2012; Auer, 2018). Furthermore, rationality, which is defined as the process of conscious consideration concerning the cost and benefit in relation to the outcome of social movements, is also linked to these entities and contributes to the construction and sustainment of collective identity. In this project, the study of sound acts as a bridge to break the impasses between rationality, culture, affect and emotion as shown in social movement literature.
Supervisors: Professor Bart Cammaerts and Dr Bingchun Meng
Jessica Kong is a doctoral candidate in media and communications. She is passionate in music and has always been curious about the communicative power of sound. Because of this, Jessica’s doctoral research project explores the role of sound, rationality, culture, affect and emotion, in creating collective identity in social movements, specifically in the Women's March in London and the Anti-Trump Protests. Using methods of sonic ethnography, sonic diary, and sonic analysis, Jessica found that sound is powerful in creating a soundscape of positivity and collectivity, countering the normality of soundscape promoting a sense of individualism and efficiency. The theorical framework and early data analysis of Jessica’ s project was presented in conferences and panels, such as Meccsa 2019 (Stirling), and SGFA 2020 (Tokyo).
Before starting her academic journey at the LSE, Jessica had a career at Radio Television Hong Kong, hosting radio programs from a societal perspective. One of the programs that she has enjoyed hosting the most was a weekly one entitled “The Sound of Music ” (奏出真善美). Throughout the on-air time in this program, Jessica narrated stories mixing with different songs and music, aiming to create a joyful and relaxing atmosphere, and give encouragement to audiences.
Jessica's passion in sound and music started growing from a very young age – when she first started learning the piano as a little girl. Her favorite classical composers are Mozart, Chopin, and Schubert. Besides being a doctoral candidate, Jessica is a seminar teacher and an associate study advisor at the LSE. Alongside with her academic commitment, Jessica is also an active pianist and song writer, who gives concerts in the community, hospitals, and care homes in London.