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Music and the twenty-first century eco-warrior


Humanity is currently faced with the extreme effects of anthropogenic climate change and, within the cultural realm, music and activism have important roles to play. This interaction between musical cultures and those engaged with environmentalism is explored in this paper, which focuses on the concept of the eco-warrior as a driver of direct environmental action, and the relationship between eco-warriors and music activism. Warrior culture is examined through various musical genres, focusing on its manifestation in a range of environmental movements from Earth First! to Extinction Rebellion. We discuss the role of warrior culture in these musical genres in reflecting the eco-warrior archetype, and follow the transition of this music to more mainstream styles, with a parallel activist shift from aggressive action, to non-violent direct action. We offer a definition of the contemporary ecowarrior—a generalized archetype of an activist for whom musical culture may play an important role in identity shaping and action—via analysis using Collective Action Framing. The findings are contextualised in conclusion through Social Movement Theory proposing a link between musical style and types of action.

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  1. A protest in which participants lie down as if dead.

  2. A public lecture was given by various XR rebels across the UK explaining climate change scientifically along with motivational descriptions of NVDA prior to the initial rebellion actions (Knights, 2019). It was called, Heading for Extinction and What to do About it.

  3. These are principally in English, however, a German translation has been made entitled Singing for Survival: A Collection of Songs and Chants for XR Action.


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All authors contributed equally to the study conception and design. The first draft of the manuscript was collaboratively written and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Donna Weston.

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The authors did not receive support or funding from any organization for the submitted work. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare that are relevant to the content of this article.

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Weston, D., Coutts, L. & Petz, M. Music and the twenty-first century eco-warrior. SN Soc Sci 1, 245 (2021).

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  • Eco-warrior
  • Collective action framing
  • Social movement theory
  • Eco-musicology
  • music activism