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God Bless AmericaThe Surprising History of an Iconic Song$
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Sheryl Kaskowitz

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199919772

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199919772.001.0001

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Coda: As We Raise Our Voices

Coda: As We Raise Our Voices

The Place of Communal Singing

(p.150) Coda: As We Raise Our Voices
God Bless America

Sheryl Kaskowitz

Oxford University Press

The epilogue uses “God Bless America” as a lens through which to examines the role of communal singing in American public life. Drawing on Emile Durkheim’s concept of secular ritual and Victor Turner’s idea of “communitas,” this closing chapter uncovers the important function that communal singing can serve to strengthen community ties through collective action, to commemorate tragic events or as a means of protest. At the same time, communal singing has the power to alienate and coerce those who feel at odds with the singing. While moments of mass singing may be rare, they continue to play an important role in demarcating the boundaries of community in American public life.

Keywords:   communal singing, Emile Durkheim, secular ritual, Victor Turner, communitas, commemoration, protest, coercion, community, public life

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