Social Epi Themes in Musicals

Background:  Musical theater frequently deals with themes of social disparities and hardship – for instance Oliver or Les Misérables.  Lisa Bates and her students in the Department of Epidemiology’s Social Epidemiology Course compiled a list of performances and themes related to major concepts of interest to social epidemiologists.



The Mix: Here is the list of themes and matching songs identified by the students.

Poverty/Relative Deprivation/Social Comparison

“If I Were Rich Man” – Fiddler on the Roof

“Money” – Cabaret

“Food Glorious Food” – Oliver

And Gender

“Everybody Ought to Have a Maid” – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

And Social Status

“If Momma was Married” – Gypsy

Immigration/Discrimination (and Gender)

“America” – West Side Story

“A Shtetl iz Amereke” – Ragtime

Neighborhood Effects

“Skid Row” – Little Shop of Horrors

“Who Will Buy” – Oliver

Resilience and Hope

“Tomorrow” – Annie

Social Support/Ties

“Life Support” – Rent

“Popular” – Wicked

“L’Chaim” – Fiddler on the Roof

Job Strain

“Little Girls” – Annie



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