Work Songs Social Practice and Meaning

Nicholas Wolterstorff

in Art Rethought

Published in print September 2015 | ISBN: 9780198747758
Published online September 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191810671 | DOI:
Work Songs Social Practice and Meaning

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This chapter analyses the social practice of singing while working—sung work—and of the meaning of the singing within that social practice. The chapter argues that sung work is a new entity. The singing and the work do not just occur simultaneously; they “coinhere” to create something new, the creation of this new entity by the singing workers often being a protest against the conditions under which they are working. Examples are taken from the recordings that Alan Lomax made of prisoners singing while working in the Parchman Prison in Louisiana. The chapter closes with some general reflections on the enhancement function of art—art enhancing the activities of ordinary life and one art enhancing a work of another art.

Keywords: coinhere; creation; Alan Lomax; Parchman Prison; prisoners; sung work; work songs

Chapter.  7724 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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