Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Media and Communication


Craig Robertson

MA Tutor

0113 343 3754

Clothworkers' Building North

PhD (Exeter), MMus (Goldsmiths), PGCE (Middlesex), BMus (Mount Allison)

Music sociologist, conflict and social behavioural change researcher, Media and communication tutor.


Media and Communication MA Tutor at the University of Leeds
Research Fellow at the Min-On Music Research Institute
Editor at Music and the Arts in Action
PhD in Music Sociology from the University of Exeter

Research Interests

Music and conflict
Social movements
Behavioural change


Lectures in research methodologies, music and politics.
Seminars in public relations, communication theory, visual communication.

Research Projects & Grants

Out in the Open: The Role of the Arts in the Arab Spring Events (University of York, 2011-2012).

Research Centres & Groups

SocArts, University of Exeter.
Min-On Music Research Institute, Tokyo
Arts and Conflict, British Academy

External Appointments

Research Fellow at the Min-On Music Research Institute
Editor at Music and the Arts in Action

PhD Thesis

Music is often heralded as a means of bringing people together or celebrating diversity and therefore it is also often assumed that music can be a beneficial tool in conflict transformation settings. Despite this widespread belief there is little empirical evidence to support this notion. Indeed, there is more evidence that suggests the opposite; music can increase solidarity within one group but that very process strengthens the borders between what is accepted as in-group or out-group. It is this strengthening of identity borders that can lead to outright conflict if certain other social conditions prevail. One question remains, why is the belief in the power of music so widespread when there is evidence that demonstrates potential negative outcomes? In order to address that question, it is useful to observe that music continues to be used in community projects and within NGOs as a means to bond groups in social conflict despite the lack evidence to support their actions. The belief in the positive power of music has influenced behaviour so that musical activity is included in peace work. Indeed, belief can be seen as a prime motivator of behaviour in most sectors of the world, much more so than hard evidence. This thesis is an exploration of the social processes that occur in musical experiences that affect memory, identity and emotions and how they affect understanding and belief which in turn affects group behaviour. The research is inter-disciplinary, drawing on music sociology, social movements, cultural studies, ethno-musicology and conflict theory, and data was collected using qualitative methods (ethnographic interviewing, action research, observation/participation, grounded theory). The fieldwork was conducted with an inter-religious choir in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and a comparative study conducted with a world-music community choir in London, UK.

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