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Youth political organizations and music: the case of St. Petersburg

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Abstract

Music has been a factor in many major movements, as the labor movements, the civil right movements, the oppositional movement in dictatorship Argentina, and various ethno-nationalist movements, as for example the Estonian national movement which, in fact, is known as the “singing revolution”. As noted by Futrell at al. (2006), compared to other examples of social movements’ high cultural and pop-cultural artifacts, such as painting and literature, which all can articulate and show off shared values and pride, only music can make you feel them and offer an immediate experience of collective identity. The paper investigates the relationship between youth political organizations and music in the city of St. Petersburg. In particular, it is focused on nine youth political organizations – Youth Guard of United Russia, Nasci, National Bolsheviks, Vanguard of Red Youth, Pyotr Alexeev Resistance Movement, Movement against illegal immigration, Oborona, Yabloko, and People Democratic Youth League - and aims at describing the contribution of music to their organizational life. The study is based on ethnographic data and in-depth interviews which were collected during the summer 2010 and were processed through situational analysis, using the positional maps introduced by Clarke (2003). In a context as the Russian one, where two lefts and two rights can be easily identified, one based on economic and distributional issues and the other one focused more on social and political rights and where, therefore, the employment of the conventional categories and methods can be inadequate and misleading, the paper suggests an innovative approach for the study and placement of youth organizations in the Saint Petersburg''s political field.