University of Limerick
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"Shame makes the world go around": performed and embodied (gendered) class disgust in Morrissey's 'The Slum Mums'

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posted on 2022-11-09, 10:10 authored by Aileen DillaneAileen Dillane, Martin PowerMartin Power, EOIN DEVEREUXEOIN DEVEREUX
This chapter explores how a pop song can become (and remain) a critical site for counter-hegemonic expression, through the creative manipulation of discursive, structural, sonic, and somatic elements. ‘The Slum Mums’, by popular music artist Morrissey, deals with the contempt felt for lone female mothers on welfare in the UK under the New Labour governments of the 1990s and 2000s. Rather than providing a straightforward critique of this ‘contempt’, Morrissey deftly creates a song whose meaning relies on the ambiguous interrelationship between the socio-political context, the lyrical content, and musical structure and sound as they relate to issues of gendered embodiment in particular. To this end, we locate our work within what might be understood as a social constructivist approach, leaning into scholars who argue for embodied perspectives. We argue that it is through the careful subversion of expectations that the song provides a powerful critique of gendered, class disgust.



Music as Multimodal Discourse Semiotics, Power and Protest, Lyndon C. S. Way, Simon McKerrell (eds);chapter 3


Bloomsbury Academic


peer-reviewed Link to published copy;



Department or School

  • Irish World Academy of Music & Dance
  • Politics & Public Administration
  • Sociology

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