Picture a street handcraft market in a touristic village called Porto de Galinhas in Pernambuco, Northeast Region of Brazil. A few days before the second round of the 2018 presidential elections on 28 October, I observed the following conversation on the market.
“You can vote for him, don’t worry, he won’t kill gay people,” says a local 50-year-old addressing a couple of openly gay, young, black men wearing tight shorts and colorful shirts. They reply: “Yes, he will, Bolsonaro will kill gay people.” While the young men walk away, the Bolsonaro supporter keeps trying to convince them, half-laughing, half-serious, stating that his candidate is not as bad as some people have been arguing. “No, he won’t . . .” he says, “and don’t worry, because if he does kill gays, the environmental agency will come after him—after all, they are animals under risk of extinction!”
Professional musical artists continually respond to and interact with the neoliberal social formation through the hegemony of the commercial music industry.1 This post presents findings from my doctoral study investigating the complex, entwined relationship between commercialized traditional music and neoliberalism in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The four-year ethnographic study engages over eighty prominent professional Irish traditional and Celtic musical artists and related industry personnel. This post suggests domination in the music industry is primarily achieved and reinforced through exclusion. This is accomplished by restricting access to three forms of capital identified by Bourdieu (1986): cultural, economic, and social, which correspond with the three modes of domination: ideological, material, and status. This work explores how, when, and why professional artists may utilize acts of resistance2 against different forms of domination when attempting to improve their relative social position.
Capitalism originated first in the city-states of Renaissance Italy and grew to become a world system with trade, industrialization, and colonialism (Braudel 1982; Arrighi  2010). Thus, capitalism encompasses core centuries of the development of Western classical music and the transformation of classical and folk musics across the world under colonialism and modernity. However, research on music and its relationship to capitalism remains limited and focuses more on popular music and cultural industries. This is due to deeply rooted notions about “high” and “low” arts and “art” versus “commercial” music. The 1938 searing indictment of mass culture as an instrument of capitalist oppression by the musicologist, composer, and leading Frankfurt theorist Theodor Adorno also carries a strong responsibility (indeed, it was Adorno who coined the term “cultural industries,” giving it a strongly pejorative meaning ).