What is it about?

It looks at the rise in radical choirs since 2010 and how they are fulfilling some of the roles of journalism by speaking truth to power. It also examines the impact and legacy of their protest work. It takes as its case study the Leeds-based Commoners Choir, led by former Chumbawamba member Boff Whalley.

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Why is it important?

The numbers of campaigning choirs have risen substantially since the formation of the Conservative/LibDem coalition in 2010 and the introduction of austerity-led social and economic policies. The "mainstream" media in the UK is often seen as too uncritical of successive governments and so alternative forms of "journalism" and "reporting" of events and politics are of interest. The protest song is usually associated with a single singer and so the campaigning choir is also of academic interest.


When reading an interview with a Commoners Choir member, I was taken by his description of it as a "singing newspaper" and wanted to explore how far fit with the description. I was also interested in how the choir aim to create legacy, going beyond the protest to have some kind of small-scale social impact.

Dr Barbara Henderson
Leeds Beckett University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: ‘Get off your arse’, Journal of Language and Politics, June 2019, John Benjamins,
DOI: 10.1075/jlp.18064.hen.
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