Rhetoric of oppression and social critique

Sarah Dayens

in Time and Memory in Reggae Music

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780719076213
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702116 | DOI:
Rhetoric of oppression and social critique

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The message contained in reggae music is above all a message of denunciation: the point is to show what is really happening, based on the fundamental distinction made by Rastafari between Good and Evil, between Zion and Babylon. Within a world viewed as a permanent struggle, reggae music develops a social critique and a denunciation of oppression. Reggae is therefore a music of resistance, based on a rhetoric of oppression that defines the terms which govern a worldview, and is rooted in the daily reality of the lives of poor people in Jamaica. Reggae music argues that poverty is neither a shameful condition nor in the order of things, but rather is only the consequence of the corruption of an elite that maintains a society based on exploitation, which therefore could be changed. Rastafari can be considered as a strong critique of consumer society and, more generally, capitalism. The rhetoric of oppression developed by reggae music articulates a fundamental opposition between the oppressors and the oppressed (based on the essential distinction of Babylon/Evil and Zion/Good), and the notion of hope.

Keywords: reggae; Rastafari movement; oppression; social critique; Jamaica; hope; poverty; resistance; capitalism; poor people

Chapter.  4857 words. 

Subjects: Media Studies

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