White Power Music and the Mobilization of Racist Social Movements


  • Ugo Corte Uppsala University
  • Bob Edwards East Carolina University


White Power music, right-wing social movements, resource mobilization, youth recruitment, collective identity, issue framing, racism


At the end of the 1970s a racist rock music movement known as White Power music emerged in Great Britain in connection with political parties of the extreme right and remains a vibrant force in racist social movements today. Throughout the 1990s, White Power music expanded significantly from its origins in a clandestine network of punk-inspired live shows and record promotions into a multi-million dollar, international enterprise of web-pages, radio stations and independent record labels promoting White Power musicians performing a wider range of musical genres. In this article, we view White Power music as a cultural resource created and produced by racist movements and used as a tool to further key movement goals.  Specifically, we examine White Power music’s role when used to 1) recruit new adherents, especially youth, 2) frame issues and ideology to cultivate a White Power collective identity, and 3) obtain financial resources. In doing so we rely upon in-depth interviews with White Power musicians and promoters as well as representatives of watchdog and monitoring organizations. Interviews were conducted by the lead author from 2002-2004 or accessed through transcripts of similar interviews made available by another researcher.  This research also relies upon an extensive examination of White Power music, lyrics, newsletters and websites.
We conclude that White Power music continues to play a significant role in the mobilization of racist political and social movements by drawing in new youth, cultivating a racist collective identity, and generating substantial sums of money to finance a range of racist endeavours.

Author Biographies

Ugo Corte, Uppsala University

Ugo Corte received his Laura in Sociologia Vecchio Ordinamento from Urbino University in 2004 and the M.A. in Sociology from East Carolina University in 2007. From 2002 - 2004 Corte worked on the project “Oppositional Cultures in Transition”  at Uppsala University where he is currently a doctoral candidate in Sociology. In 2001, Corte wrote with Tom R. Burns and Masoud Kamali “The Evolution of Parliaments: An Historical and Comparative Analysis of Parliamentary Assemblies and Processes of Political Decision Making” (translated from original in Italian), that appears as a chapter in “Storia d’ Italia: Il Parlamento,” Annali, n. 17, edited by Luciano Violante and published by Giulio Einaudi. Corte’s current research examines the development and dynamics of lifestyle and “extreme” sports, specifically big-wave surfing and BMX bike riding.

Bob Edwards, East Carolina University

Bob Edwards received an M.A. in Communications from Wheaton College in 1983 and a PhD in Sociology from The Catholic University of America in 1995.  He is currently Professor of Sociology at East Carolina University.  Edwards’ work on social movements, civil society and the social organization of inequality has been published in the Annual Review of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Social Forces, Journal of Democracy, Journal of Public Policy, and Revue Transitions.  He is the editor, along with Michael W. Foley and Mario Diani, of Beyond Tocqueville: Civil Society and the Social Capital Debate in Comparative Perspective.