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Overview to Music, Business, and Peace

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18177/sym.2018.58.sr.11410
  • PDF: https://www.jstor.org/stable/26608530

The articles in this special issue are specifically devoted to the relationship between music, business, and peace. This conversation has been the aim of two Music, Business, and Peace (MBP) conferences at Indiana University led by university scholars at the Jacobs School of Music, the Kelley School of Business, and the College of Arts and Sciences. Our intent in these conferences was to bring together national and international peace researchers, activists, and artists to form a collective with the ability to assess and pursue peacemaking activities with the combined power of the tools presented in different disciplines. The origins of business and peace scholarship began when one member of the planning team (Timothy Fort) noticed that his arguments for the creation of ethical business-organization cultures overlapped strongly with anthropological research of peaceful societies. Thus, ethics-oriented research in business (so oriented because of exposure to non-business scholarship) contributed to the study of peace. The integration of music follows this same approach. These articles provide theoretical groundwork for the themes of the special issue generally and the connection among music, business, and peace specifically. 

We see these articles as an extension of the two conferences, with the advantage of presenting key ideas to a larger public and thereby creating the opportunity to open a new way of seeing and hearing how peacemaking and peace building can be pursued, researched, and supported through an emerging set of practices that integrate music and business. Current domestic and international events convince us that this particular time is right to utilize the untapped power of music and business to open doors to shared human values that otherwise can be muted in the violent rumble of politics.

A strong strain of scholarship argues that ethics is nurtured by the emotions and through aesthetic quests for moral excellence. Music (although ambivalent in nature) can be seen as a resource to nudge positive emotions in the direction toward ethics, and logically, then toward peace: ethical behavior depends on conditions where conflict resolution stems from intentional action. We believe that these conferences have provided an opportunity for an integration and recognition of how music (and other cultural entities), can further encourage business toward the direction of peace while business provides a platform for the dissemination of the positive capabilities of music toward the aims of peace in the world today.

This project supports a dialogue not only among academics, practitioners, and policy makers, but among anyone who becomes aware that the inspirations and aesthetics engendered by music and the relationality fostered by collaborative exchange provides an opportunity for peacemaking among individuals, and a foundation for policy makers to craft peaceful relationships on a geopolitical level.1

One can place this project’s efforts within the vernacular of political theory as well in the following way: Music draws on “soft power,” which can elicit the emotions and aesthetics of what is possible, and it can and has been utilized as a feature of cultural diplomacy. It is the intrinsic power and value of art that has provided signposts or beacons to humanity throughout history. The arts have in fact defined us as humans in both positive and negative ways; the ethical understanding of artistic power and value that is under study here. Business depends upon trading relationships, internally in the exchanges between employees and employers and in the market among customers, companies, suppliers, and suppliers, which if practiced ethically binds these stakeholders into relationships where each holds value and where violence is counterproductive. This dimension has been referred to as “sticky power.”  “Sharp power” involves the tools of nation-states, where geopolitical boundaries and interests are enforced though military might, though peaceful resolutions may occur through legal systems. 

Shared languages, history, religion, legal, and political systems may lessen the likelihood of war. Absent the birth pangs of the New World, there has not been a great deal of violence between the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and Australia for two hundred years. Some studies show that democratic countries do not war with each other,2Weart, Never at War. while others suggest that economic interdependence makes peaceful resolution of disputes a smart strategy.3Hayek, The Fatal Conceit; Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature  These examples suggest that there are additional cultural foundations for peace that may be drawn upon in order to make the peacemaking work of governments easier.

Music certainly stands to be a candidate for a cultural artifact that brings people together. It is not that we believe that we could find a single song that we all sing; it is the fact that we all do sing and, to broaden the medium, musicking4Small, Musicking. touches emotions that can help to make us all instruments of peace. To push the metaphor further, the peace building musicking provides is more in terms of harmonizing.

Yet music and musicking are more than that too. Music provides a language of the soothing of the soul. It can be a unifying anthem of protest and of solidarity. It can be the rallying point for charitable acts that alleviate suffering. It can articulate, in ways more powerful than words, the hopes, dreams, and fears of a community, a nation, and a world. The power and potential of music – and musicking – is enormous. 

Such assertions, however, are loaded with ambiguities in at least two ways. One ambiguity lies in exactly how different nations might characterize a cultural artifact as being a shared heritage or something divisive. Any cultural artifact could be used for ill or for good. Music can be peaceful or violent. Sports can be welding or divisive. Religion can reach the most humanitarian aspects of love and justify the torture of an infidel.5Appleby, The Ambivalence of the Sacred. Business can bring people together to peacefully exchange good and it can be exploitative.6Fort, Business, Integrity and Peace.  The difference between these kinds of uses lies in the normative aims.7Ibid.

To turn to normative thought may seem hopeless itself. How do we agree on what is moral and ethical? Yet, we do know something about what makes for peaceful societies and so by making peace itself an aim, we can move beyond endless philosophical speculations and instead look to the ways that cultural artifacts –such as music - lead toward peacefulness rather than toward violence. It is with this dimension in mind that this special issue features the ways in which various cultural artifacts can lead toward peace. Without neglecting the ambivalence noted, what can music (or sports, business, religion, law, and film) do to enhance peace?

Jerry White, who shared in the citation for the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize (related to landmine renewal) spoke at the 2017 conference on Music, Business, and Peace. In thinking of the characteristics that have marked his and other successful peace campaigns and how music, business, and peace might align with those experiences, White shared the following:

I think the music genre that would align most with the landmine campaign would be jazz, because there were all sorts of improvisation and breaking of the rules to create this campaign….I’ve come to realize that you have to align wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, on three levels, like a chord, and know which part you are talking about. When you’re talking about wisdom, that would be like iconic anthems, as our previous speaker was talking about. Anthems can tap into the value set and the principles that are transcendent for various groups involved. There is unifying vision and a sound of wisdom involved in iconic music that takes us, collectively, beyond ourselves.

I’d add a question and a footnote to that: in these days, most social campaigns, including Peace and Conflict, are having less impact by entering from the left side of the political spectrum. I might posit, whether through folk songs like “We Shall Overcome” or something similar, they trigger people on the right to react, thinking, “Oh, this is another lefty cause.” So, in the work on landmines we did in Israel, there was no way you could come in through the left, leading with Israeli non-governmental groups such as “Peace Now.” We had to come in from the right. One needs to consider whether there is music from the right that might coalesce, some sort of iconic “conservative” music that can offer an umbrella to a movement’s call to action?

Music is also about Understanding. For every conference we did in the landmine campaign, whether in Mozambique, or in Cambodia, Bosnia, Colombia, music was always involved. Music brings people together. The orchestration of the different musicians and players and pieces of any systems-changing campaign have to be attended to. Music and dance that manifests local cultural ownership were very important for the participants, international as well as local campaigners. So, music can be used effectively as a coalescing, coalition-building effort. In every major campaign music was involved.

Thirdly, there is music as sort of Knowledge in action. Music is a tool of excellence that reveals knowing and skill. Because of the nature of the weapon, maiming individuals and blowing up families, landmine victims needed to grapple with their resilience as a way of overcoming trauma. Or music could just contribute to a fundraiser. You might recall that Paul McCartney got involved with our project. I remember an event with Paul McCartney in a music-history-making duet with Brian Wilson, trading parts and harmonies, singing “Let it Be” and “Imagine.” There was the element of surprise; not just music as business as usual, but music as excellently performed, surprising, taking an audience to a new place. So, if it’s a fundraiser, it might be you just need a good song for entertainment. That’s not as iconic as you know the “Wisdom” category. It means music is a demonstration of excellence, that people want to hear, and is hitting your audience and doing what you want it to achieve, at that sort of action-based level. Maybe these can be different ways of thinking about campaigns as music, to be deconstructed, and theorized: how music is used in any campaign at more than one level.8White, Interview [this issue].

With these comments and foundations in mind, we determined the core components of our efforts to integrate music, business, and peace.  

 

Business and Peace?

While many have argued that there is a correlation between trade and peace or economic development and peace, little attention had been given to what specific business entities might do to contribute to peace.9Hayek, The Fatal Conceit; Kant, Perpetual Peace. Initial propositions were advanced by Jane Nelson10Nelson, The Business of Peace. and by Virginia Haufler,11Haufler, A Public Role for the Private Sector. at the turn of the century. A book by Timothy Fort and Cindy Schpani attempted a theoretical articulation of the relationship.12Fort and Schipani, The Role of Business in Fostering Peaceful Societies.  

They noted that anthropologists studying peace have identified attributes of relatively non-violent societies and those attributes correlated well with recommendations by academics and business leaders alike as to how to create ethical business culture13Fabbro, Peaceful Societies: An Introduction;  Kelly, Warless Societies and the Origin of War. with that as background, they identified four contributions businesses can make to peace.

First, since poverty is strongly correlated with violence, business can make a contribution in providing economic development and, with it, jobs. Yet, it is not just any economic development that helps. After all, sweatshops are hardly consistent with peacebuilding. Instead, they demonstrated that businesses that differentiate an economy so that the main export product is not an undifferentiated economy tends to help create a more peaceful society. They also noted the benefits of technological and managerial knowledge transfer to increase and spread sustainable economic development.14Fort and Schipani , The Role of Business in Fostering Peaceful Societies.

Second, respect for the rule of law is crucial. This is true with respect to following laws, especially contract and property rights, as well as supporting dispute resolution processes. Of particular importance was their study showing a direct correlation between corruption and violence. Thus, businesses can take is to reduce or, even better, eliminate the bribery in which they are engaged.15Ibid.

Third, businesses can have a sense of community. Externally, this relates to being a good citizen, respecting local populations, and being environmentally responsible. Internally, it relates to supporting gender equity, human rights, and voice of employees, all of which have been statistically correlated with peace. Maintaining small sizes of team groups within the organization also allows for employees to experience consequences of their action, which directly relates to the findings of anthropologists as being a key attribute of peaceful societies.16Ibid.  

Fourth, businesses can act in a “track-two” way. This relates to notions of cultural diplomacy wherein business leaders can help governments see the advantages of peace. In a well-cited article, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman reported that at the height of the 1998 tensions between India and Pakistan, leaders from General Electric pressed upon the leaders of the two countries to find ways to stand-down from their nuclear confrontation.17Friedman, India, Pakistan, and G.E.


Business, Music, and Peace

This framework has been very influential in the emerging field of business and peace. Schipani and Peterson’s article Recording Artists, Music, Social Change, and the Business World, provides an analysis both in terms of how the lyrics associated with music can enhance cognitive awareness and movements toward peace as well as how the business of music and the models for it to be constructively governed.18Schipani and Peterson, Recording Artists, Music, Social Change, and the Business.  More specifically, they remind us of the ways in which music has been used in social movements in the United States, ranging from the songs of black slaves to Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Bruce Springsteen. They also note music’s importance globally, including the use of jazz as an international tool of cultural diplomacy and in concerts such as Live Aid and others on behalf of the fight against AIDS. With this as background, Schipani and Peterson then address the ways in which music is used commerically, for example, to obtain charitable donations for a cause, such as FarmAid, that in turn can have impact on legislations. While music has an impact on government, government also can exert influence on music, raising the question of the censorship of musical expression either from government itself, for example with respect to lewd or violent lyrics to within the music industry.

Fort, co-authoring with Todd Haugh, provide a more in-depth assessment of the way ethical behavior connects with peace and they then explore the ways in which music touches the emotions in ways that may be conducive toward nudging individuals toward engaging in ethical behavior. Drawing on current thinking in behavioral ethics, they suggest that music may be able to play a proactive role in fostering ethical conduct in business. If true, and if Fort & Schipani’s theory is right that ethical business conduct links to business contributions to peace, then music stands in a position to helpfully push business into a peacebuilding direction.

 

Music and Peace?

Inspired by the desire to respond to student requests for a relevant course on music (outside of standard chronological and stylistic paradigms), Glen’s research began with the music itself, resulting in the creation of a course entitled: “Music of War and Peace.” The class explores both the scholarship into theories of the relationship of music and peace, and numerous compositional and performance responses to war that lead into a quagmire of topics encompassing “bearing witness,” creative intention, musical-cultural context, expression, meaning, and communication.

Glen chose to begin with contemporary conflicts that both center and focus the musical and academic choices. This is, however, not a “music of protest” approach covering popular and folk music, but rather a course that includes music from many traditions and eras that are considered on the basis of their intention and effectiveness. Music as an agent of social change is certainly one aspect of the topics covered, but so are personal reflection and response to overwhelming circumstances. Matters of meaning and ambivalence also come up frequently, with examples taken from different genres and styles of music. Musical examples range from the celebration of victory, to laments, to memorials, to music that does not allow the listener to forget, such as Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, which has been described as being “a vivid evocation of the horrors of war.”19 Carpenter: https://www.allmusic.com/composition/threnody-for-the-victims-of-hiroshima-for-52-strings-mc0002378039  Some of the music is studied because of its personally transformational aspects (e.g. the spirituals), and some from the performer’s or composer’s perspective.

The premises that form the basis of research into music and peace are presented in several of the opening chapters of Music and Conflict Transformation, edited by Olivier Urbain, who was the keynote speaker for the MBP conference.20Urbain,“Music and Conflict Transformation.” Among other issues, the authors outline and review the following precepts which are also expressed in the articles of this special issue:

First, music itself, is purely an articulation of sound, formulated within centuries of context and cultural sublimation. Olivier Urbain points to this in his essay for this special issue. As a physical entity, music has the power of being a universal acoustical phenomenon that is found and used in every culture. An examination of the role that music can play in conflict resolution and peace building reveals its potential – with the immediate acknowledgement that it can also be a tool for propaganda and can contribute to violence and oppression. Its symbols, interpretation, use, meaning, and identity as a culturally essential product is referenced in Cynthia Cohen’s article entitled “Music: A Universal Language?” She states:

Music’s power derives, in part, from its ability to create and strengthen feelings of affinity and group cohesion. Surely, these feelings can be cultivated in the service of peace, but we should remain aware that this power can be used for evil as well as for good. 21Cohen, in Urbain, 26

The fact that music has been used for either remains a testament to its influence.

With this background in mind, research into music and peace also identifies positive possibilities. Johann Galtung’s points in “Peace, Music, and the Arts” form an important part of the inquiry into music and inspiration. He outlines three capacities of music: “Firstly, there is the thesis that art can lift us up, beyond the ordinary. Art may make us forget the ordinary, catapulting us for some time to a virtual, more spiritual level. … Secondly there is the idea that this uplifting may unite us….Thirdly the thesis that such unity will be conducive to peace.”22 Johann Galtung, in Urbain, 54  Galtung goes on to discuss how unification can be vertical and hierarchical, or horizontal, where commonalities are brought forth with the opportunity for creating common ground: “however unconsciously and subtly, by talking the same language, producing a greater self beyond little me alone.”23Ibid., 56

Perhaps the most powerful tenet of this research is the suggestion that music can contribute to empathy. It follows that empathy is required for compassion, and compassion is required for conflict resolution, or peace. These ideas are laid out robustly in Felicity Laurence’s article, entitled “Music and Empathy” where she suggests conceptual links between music and empathy. After acknowledging the ambivalence of the art and that “music’s purposes…serve the ongoing ends of power relationships one way or another,”24Felicity Laurence, in Urbain, 13 it may also “…promote our self- awareness and self-esteem, mutual tolerance, sense of spirituality…to name but a few.”25Ibid., 14  And, that “Above all, there is a recurrent conjecture that music can enable people, somehow, to “get inside” each other’s minds, feel each other’s suffering and recognize each other’s shared humanity – that is, in common understanding, to have empathy for each other.”26 Ibid.

 

Music, Business, and Peace

The article following this overview comes from Nancy Love who is a Political Science professor and coordinator of the Humanities Council at Appalachian State. Love’s teaching and research emphasize political theory, especially critical theory, democratic theory, and feminist theory. She is the author of Trendy Fascism: White Power Music and the Future of Democracy (2016), and Musical Democracy (2006). Nancy Love’s article in our current issue, “From Settler Colonialism to Standing Rock:  Hearing Native Voices for Peace,” offers probing questions and insights into music of our time and its role in social-political arenas.

The second contribution to this special issue centers on an interview with Alexander Bernstein, son of Leonard Bernstein. Alexander and his siblings have worked to carry on their father’s legacy through the “Artful Learning” educational program; and, through their involvement in El Sistema, which is a program of music-training for underserved children originating in Venezuela.

Third, Kathleen Higgins, who is a professor of philosophy with a particular expertise in music and ethics, provides a philosophical methodology for disentangling the ambivalence of music in her article, “Connecting Music to Ethics.” More specifically, she examines music’s mechanisms for creating solidarity, its risks in fostering enmities, and the use of music to building thriving relationships, Thus, drawing upon issues and concepts of relationality, she demonstrates models of how music can constructively nudge cultures toward peace...or not.

The fourth contribution comes from Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, currently the Chair of Indiana University’s African American & African Diaspora Studies. She is the Immediate Past President of the World Communication Association, and studies intersections between empathy and conflict, and pedagogy and civil engagement. Calloway-Thomas has strong interests in the role of the arts in creating cultural connections and communication. Her article in this current issue, “Empathy: A Global Imperative for Peace,” highlights the essential nature of communication and its powerful impact on relationships.

The special issue concludes with a kind of dialogue between two scholars, Olivier Urbain and Timothy Fort. 

Urbain is the Director of the Min-On Music Research Institute (MOMRI) and has worked extensively in conflict resolution and peace-building. His book Music and Conflict Transformation: Harmonies and Dissonances in Geopolitics brings together articles by scholars of music and peace-building from several countries and disciplines. He is also the founder and director of the Transcend: Art & Peace Network, an online organization promoting research on the links between peace-building and the arts.

Timothy Fort has written four books and many additional articles on the topic of business and peace. He has also organized seven special journal issues and fourteen conferences on business and peace. Fort offers a warm, encouraging response to Urbain’s work in his essay “A Response to Olivier Urbain and an Exploration of How Music May Serve as a Nudge for More Ethical and Peaceful Business Behavior.” He extends that response to summarize a task assigned to business students where they are to identify a piece of music that corresponds with a level of moral development.  This assignment thus introduces fresh material that looks at ways in which people can utilize music to both identify their position of moral development at a given place and also to use music to reorient their work toward more peaceful aims.

Taken as a whole, this special issue stimulates discussion and broadens the opportunities for citizens to make contributions to peace in a variety of ways. To the extent that peoples of different countries and societies can find ways in which they can find peaceful relations with each other, it seems that it may provide foundations for governments to find ways to do the same. Rather than being paralyzed waiting for governments to act, any individual can contribute to peace through their music, their participation in social change, through their business and work activities as well as noting the ways in which the law, respect of gender equality, and human rights can provide the cultural foundations for sustainable peace. This original inquiry, then, not only attempts to articulate extant and theoretically possible ways to foster peace. It is also a call for anyone and all of us to become an instrument of peace.

 

Notes           

One can place this project’s efforts within the vernacular of political theory as well in the following way: Music draws on “soft power,” which can elicit the emotions and aesthetics of what is possible, and it can and has been utilized as a feature of cultural diplomacy. It is the intrinsic power and value of art that has provided signposts or beacons to humanity throughout history. The arts have in fact defined us as humans in both positive and negative ways; the ethical understanding of artistic power and value that is under study here. Business depends upon trading relationships, internally in the exchanges between employees and employers and in the market among customers, companies, suppliers, and suppliers, which if practiced ethically binds these stakeholders into relationships where each holds value and where violence is counterproductive. This dimension has been referred to as “sticky power.” “Sharp power” involves the tools of nation-states, where geopolitical boundaries and interests are enforced though military might, though peaceful resolutions may occur through legal systems. 

2 Weart, Never at War.

3 Hayek, The Fatal Conceit; Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature.

4 Small, Musicking.

5 Appleby, The Ambivalence of the Sacred.

6 Fort, Business, Integrity and Peace.

7 Ibid.

8 White, Interview [this issue].

9 Hayek, The Fatal Conceit; Kant, Perpetual Peace.

10 Nelson, The Business of Peace.

11 Haufler, A Public Role for the Private Sector.

12 Fort and Schipani, The Role of Business in Fostering Peaceful Societies.

13 Fabbro, Peaceful Societies: An Introduction;  Kelly, Warless Societies and the Origin of War.

14 Fort and Schipani , The Role of Business in Fostering Peaceful Societies.

15 Ibid.

16 Ibid.

17 Friedman, India, Pakistan, and G.E.

18 Schipani and Peterson, Recording Artists, Music, Social Change, and the Business.

19 Carpenter: https://www.allmusic.com/composition/threnody-for-the-victims-of-hiroshima-for-52-strings-mc0002378039

20 Urbain,“Music and Conflict Transformation.”

21 Cohen,  in Urbain, 26

22 Galtung, in Urbain, 54

23 Ibid., 56

24 Laurence, in Urbain, 13

25 Ibid., 14

26 Ibid.

 

Bibliography

Appleby, R. Scott. The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence and Reconciliation. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999.

Cohen, Cynthia. “Music: A Universal Language?” In Music and Conflict Transformation: Harmonies and Dissonances in Geopolitics, edited by Olivier Urbain. Pg. 26-39. I.B. Taurus in association with the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, 2008.

Fabbro, David. “Peaceful Societies: An Introduction,” Journal of Peace Research 15 (1978): 67-83. doi:10.1177/002234337801500106.

Fort, Timothy L. Business, Integrity and Peace: Beyond Geopolitical and Disciplinary Boundaries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Fort, Timothy L. and Cindy A. Schipani. The Role of Business in Fostering Peaceful Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Friedman, Thomas L. “India, Pakistan, & G.E.” New York Times (August 11, 1998).

Galtung, Johan. “Peace, Music and the Arts: In Search of Interconnections.” In Music and Conflict Transformation: Harmonies and Dissonances in Geopolitics, edited by Olivier Urbain. Pg. 53-62. I.B. Taurus in association with the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, 2008.

Haufler, Virginia. A Public Role for the Private Sector. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2001.

Hayek, F.A. The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

Kant, Immanuel. Perpetual Peace. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1795.

Kelly, Raymond C.  Warless Societies and the Origin of War. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000.

Laurence, Felicity. “Music and Empathy.”  In Music and Conflict Transformation: Harmonies and Dissonances in Geopolitics, edited by Olivier Urbain. Pg. 13-25. I.B. Taurus in association with the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, 2008.

Nelson, Jane. The Business of Peace: The Private Sector as a Partner in Conflict Prevention and Resolution, 2001.   

Pinker, Steven. The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. New York: Viking Books, 2011.

Small, Christopher. Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press/University Press of New England, 1998.

Schipani, Cindy A.  and Kate Peterson. “Recording Artists, Music, Social Change, and the Business,” manuscript, 2018.

Weart, Spencer R. Never at War: Why Democracies Will Not Fight One Another. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.

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Constance Cook Glen and Timothy L. Fort

Constance Cook Glen is Senior Lecturer and Director of the Music in General Studies program at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Glen is committed to social change through music and is the co-founder of virtual summits: Music, Business and Peace. She has presented on Leonard Bernstein and his impact.

Timothy L. Fort holds the Eveleigh Professorship in Business Ethics at the Kelley School of Business. Fort has written over eighty articles and twenty-five books, two of which have won a Best Book Award from the Academy of Management. He has won twelve research awards from thee different academic associations.