Music is pervasive. It exists in every aspect of our society. Because of this simple fact, it is important to critically analyze the ways in which artists can use their music in order to be persuasive. The purpose of this study was to critically examine the ways in which Bruce Cockburn, a Canadian singer-songwriter, used both his lyrics and his music to critique certain ideologies and propose others as alternatives. In order to complete this analysis, I employed the method of ideological criticism, as well as the framework of Irvine and Kirkpatrick’s six key musical variables. The combination of these two methods allowed me to analyze for meaning both the lyrics of the songs, as well as the music. Cockburn often critiques the ideology of capitalism, often noting how damaging it is to what he refers to as “north-south relations.” As an alternative, he proposes an ideology of interconnectedness, an ideology that will allow for the people of the world to see the deeper connections between every aspect of the world. By critiquing this capitalist ideology through music, Cockburn’s argument is greatly enhanced as the music contributes something that mere words simply cannot.


Boser, Beth


Communication Studies


Speech and Rhetorical Studies


ideology, music, rhetoric, hegemony

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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