Social fabric: damage and reconstruction on the basis of a collective music program

Published date02 March 2022
Date02 March 2022
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression,conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology,policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
AuthorAndrea del Pilar Rodríguez-Sánchez
Social fabric: damage and reconstruction
on the basis of a collective music program
Andrea del Pilar Rodríguez-S
Purpose The purpose of this study was to understand the changes in the social fabric of victims of forced
displacement in Colombia as a result of these events, as well as the contributions of belonging to a collective
musical program in reconstructing the social fabric of the participants. In Latin America, the metaphor of social
fabric is used to represent the web of social relations that shape society. A five-year doctoral investigation sought
to understand the changes in the social fabric of victims of forced displacement in Colombia resulting from these
events, as well as the contributions of belonging to a collective musical program in reconstructing the social
fabric of the participants. The study was undertaken using a qualitative approach and simple statistics, with
which were analyzed 14 life stories and 70 sound postcards across seven families, who were victims of violence
and belonged to the musical program in question. The research identified as key elements of the social fabric:
networks, cohesive or divisive tangible resources, precarious or sufficient tangible resources, the experiences.
Design/methodology/approach This research had a qualitative, ethnographic and narrat ive approach. It
was developed through life stories with sound postcards and semi-structured interviews. The research
participants were 14 people from families in the program studie da nd 10 teachers from the same program. The
fieldwork was carried out over a period of six months in four cities in Colom bia, taking four to five weeks in each
city. In addition to the above, documents of the o rganization studied were reviewed.
Findings This paper shows the impactson the social fabric of the participants in terms of the negative
impact on theirfamily and social networks, as well as the emergence after forced displacementof divisive
intangibleresources associated with distrustof self, others and society. Collectivemusical spaces help to
break the sense of anonymityand isolation by creating new networks through whichcohesive intangible
resources circulate, helping participants to regain confidence in themselves and others through
temporarymusical identity and peaceful identity.
Research limitations/implications The limitations of this research relate to being a case study in
Colombia. Althoughthis is a national program and the study has been carried out in four different citiesin
the country, it is not possible to generalize. However, it is possiblethat in the future it will be possible to
contrast the findingswith the processes developed with similar organizationsworking in music for social
Practical implications The results ofthis research have practical implicationsinsofar as they can help
to better understandthe elements that make up the social fabric, the impactsof violence for families who
have experiencedit and the paths to recovery. Particularly for musicorganizations with social objectives,
it can help to better understand their social impact. In that sense, it allows strategic elements of the
organizationsto be adjusted so that their socialobjectives are better met.
Social implications The social implicationsare related to the responsibility of organizations thatwork
with victims of the armed conflict to understand the impact of violence on these people, as this
understanding allows them to generate appropriate strategies of care. Particularly, for artistic
organizations, andin this case, musical organizations, to understandhow their action can collaborate in
the recoveryof people.
Originality/value Although the term socialfabric is widely used in Latin American literature, thereare
few studies that clarify the concept and its application in concrete social situations. This research
managed to define the specific elements of the concept and to approach the affectation of these
elements by violence.Likewise, the research manages to show some ways for the recovery of the social
fabric of the victimsowing to their participation in the collectivemusical space.
Keywords Social fabric, Armed conflict, Civilian victims, Community music, Peacebuilding
Paper type Research paper
Andrea del Pilar
anchez is based
at Grupo Cuestion-arte,
Colciencias, Bogota,
Received 19 January 2022
Revised 30 January 2022
Accepted 30 January 2022
The author wishes to thank the
Batuta National Foundation for
providing access to the music
centers, and the families and
professionals interviewed. This
study was partly financed by a
donation from: Santander
doctoral scholarships in Spain,
for the first two years of study,
Balaguer Hermanos
Scholarship for the research
stay, International Peace
Research Association
Foundation for the field work
and Ministry of Science,
Innovation and Universities,
under grant number
EDU2017-86311-P, and the
project was supported by
Jaume I University of Castell
(Spain), under grant number
UJI-B2019-16 for sound design
of sound postcards. Thanks to
Peter Cousins (author’s
husband) for his help with the
translation of the paper.
PAGE 304 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICTAND PEACE RESEARCH jVOL. 14 NO. 4 2022, pp. 304-319, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 DOI 10.1108/JACPR-01-2022-0676
Studies related to collective musical spaces during and after the armed conflict have
succeeded in identifying elements that reveal their importance in rebuilding of the social
fabric of populations that have been victims of violence (Rodrı
anchez and Cabedo-
Mas, 2017). Such reconstruction is a key point in current conflicts and the so-called new
wars, where civilians represent the greatest number of victims (Kaldor, 1999). This implies
that their lives and environment are highly affected and, therefore, these reparations must
be addressed within peacebuilding processes (Urbain and Robertson, 2016;Lederach,
This research has become necessary in the Colombian context as more than 80% of the
victims of the armed conflict between 1980 to the present are civilians (CNMH, 2013). This
has been a challenge for Colombian society, which has generated many initiatives to
respond/in response to the more than 8,000,000 victims that this conflict has produced.
´rez (2011) states that 80% of peacebuilding initiatives in Colombia are promoted by
civil society and are developed on the basis of community care models. Meanwhile, various
actors are involved in the Colombian armed conflict, including those with political
interests (guerrilla groups) or economic interests (paramilitaries and drug traffickers). All
these actors have sought to exert territorial control through armed violence and have
perpetrated serious human rights’ violations against the civilian population (Rinc
on and
´guez, 2015;Uprimny, 2001).
This paper presents the doctoral thesis’ findings concerning the social fabric “They have
taught us to be in company”: A study of collective musical programs with communities that
have fallen victim to the armed conflict in Colombia as spaces for rebuilding the social
fabric. This was undertaken between 2014 and 2019 on the International Peace, Conflict
and Development Studies program at Jaume I University in Castell
on, Spain.
The study focused on the “Music for Reconciliation” program of the Batuta National
Foundation (FNB by its Spanish initials) of Colombia, which carries out musical training with
children who are victims of the armed conflict. The particularity of this program/Whatmakes
this program different is the inclusion of a psychosocial care component, through which
professionals in the social filed (social work or psychology) create spaces for dialogue with
children and/or their families about theirpersonal situations and even about the aftermath of
the armed conflict. In each family, a young person and a relative were interviewed
generally the mother. In this paper, some of the testimonies derived from this process are
quoted. However, these texts can be appreciated in full in the corresponding doctoral
thesis (Rodrı
anchez, 2019).
The research responded to the need to formulate a specific study with participants of
collective musical spaces who are victims of the armed conflict, to account for the impacts
of violence on their social fabric and the contributions of this type of program in rebuilding
this fabric. The article will take as a basis a literature review on the concept of social fabric
anchez et al., 2019), a necessary element given that the theoretical
development of this term has not been so comprehensive, despite being permanently cited
within the field of social sciences in Latin America. Subsequently, the findings on the
changes in the interviewees’ social fabric following their forced displacement or the violent
events will be presented, in relationto the social fabric they enjoyed before them.
Finally, the paper discusses the scope that a music program with a social perspective can
have in a society that is in an early post-peace-agreement phase and is struggling to
establish a sustainable peace amid multiple actors with diverse economic and political
interests. The intention is not to enter into the pedagogical aspects of the program, but
rather to review the relationship between the program and society, and what this means for
the families who are both victims of the conflictand program participants.

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