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Modern music is often a reflection of many people's perceptions of the world around them. The protest music of the 1960s and early 1970s, for example, grew out of the growing disenchantment among many of the nation's youth with the conduct of the war in Vietnam and with the conservative values that dominated up until that time. Today, modern music continues to reflect perceptions of the ills that permeate society and the injustices that sectors of the population view as an endemic part of the countries in which they live.
Of the various genres of modern music, the one that can most closely be associated with a segment of the population's self-perception is rap or hip-hop, which often emphasizes the plight of the African-American community in terms of social justice and the continued existence of an underprivileged class within society. Other genres, including country western and rock also frequently reflect contemporary values and visions, for better or for worse. Blues, folk, African and Caribbean music similarly tell stories that serve as reflections of the period in which they are composed.
While modern music often reflects that societies from which it emanates, it also influences those societies in turn. As the protest music of the earlier era reflected disenchantment with contemporary morals and governmental policies, that music in itself influenced how many people viewed the institutions of government. The distrust and anger in songs like Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind," John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance," Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier," Country Joe McDonald's "I Feel Like I'm Fixing to Die Rag," Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction," and almost everything by Pete Seeger, among many others, all struck a chord with a large segment of the population already seething with anger and resentment about the Vietnam War and the civil rights situation.
While today's protest music does not appear to have quite the power to inflame passions as did the music of that earlier era, it does have its audience, who are both influenced by it and influence the music in turn. To a large degree, the music and the sentiments exist in a cyclical world, each feeding into each other.
How modern music influences people's career decisions is probably extremely limited. Certainly, it influences some individuals to pursue certain paths in life, but whether the music is the determining factor in such choices is unlikely in all but a very few instances. Again, the music is a reflection of the sentiments of a segment of the population. Those adhering to such sentiments may well have difficult career choices tipped in a particular direction because they are influenced by music, but there is no way to quantify that.
Again, separating family lifestyles from the cyclical nature of music and emotions is very difficult. It all feeds into another. Families that were most responsive to protest music were also most likely to raise their children in a socially liberal manner. Parents for whom more conservative country western songs are representative are more likely to adopt conservative values and practices.
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