Archives for category: Group identity

Speaking, declaiming, shouting, and singing together allows the expression of group feelings: Feelings that are often simple, usually strong, sometimes stupid, but always rooted in the collective identity that so finds expression.  This underlies the use of collective speaking in oaths and ceremonies, rituals and rites, because we take the collective voice very seriously.

How horrible then to find this ability misused by corporations, as employees are required to participate in a company-sponsored chant.   Walmart seem to be particularly enthused by this form of ritual humiliation of their employees as they get them to chant “Who’s number 1? . . . The customer!  What do we want to be? . . . Accident free!!”  I’m sure other corporations do this too without a thought.

Videos of this practice abound.  Here’s just one sad sample:

http://youtu.be/zMPcg6cd1ek

Feel free to provide illustrations by other corporations in the comments.

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Ibrahim Quashoush (or Kashoush) (w) was a fireman in the Syrian city of Homs.  He was also an influential musician, and in 2010/2011 he became widely known for leading a lively chant against the Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad.  A video of this chant is available here, filmed in Hama on 27 June, 2011.  It is a vibrant performance that features short verses and a collective chorus.

Read on for more, but be warned, this is not a happy story.

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Chanting seems to be a very effective means of embodying and sustaining group identity.  Many chants are little more than labels the group chooses to apply to itself.  The very common and multi-purpose chant of “U. S. A.” is a good example.

So the odd case of the Tottenham Hotspur chant merits attention.  The London football club has traditionally had strong ties to the local Jewish community.   Supporters refer to themselves as the “Yid Army”, and incorporate this term in many of their chants.  Cries of anti-semitism (“yid” is widely perceived as a pejorative term for jews) seem a little odd in this instance, as the supporters adopted the term themselves.   David Cameron has seen fit to opine that the use of  chants including the term “yid” should be tolerated, but there has been strong opposition from other quarters, and recently, occasional arrests for such chanting.

To add to the problem, opposition fans have taken to hissing loudly during matches, in apparent reference to the gas chambers of the holocaust.

A lighter view of the chant is provided in this video: