Kinshasa Sociale & Musicale
follow-up research on music in social work in Kinshasa (2024-2025)

Follow-up research in Kinshasa in 2024 and 2025

Lukas Pairon plans to return to Kinshasa for one month in 2024 and one month in 2025 to conduct further research with the young musicians who took part in his research from 2012 to 2016 – former members of violent gangs (kuluna) and young people formerly known as ‘witch-children’ and ‘street children’ (sheges) who have become musicians.  During this further research he intends to revisit them and explore with them the role that learning music may have played in their lives – whether they remained musicians or not.  The publisher Routledge New York hopes to be able to publish a new short-format book on this further research in their ‘focus titles’ series.

We hope that this new book will also be published in French.

The Institute of Sociology at the University of Jena has decided to invite Lukas Pairon for the period 2024-2025 as a visiting researcher, enabling him to develop this post-doctoral research, accompanied by the sociologist Hartmut Rosa [1] from this institute.

Biologist Olivier Hamant (INRAE, École Normale Supérieure, Lyon University) also decided to accompany this follow-up research.

[1] Hartmut Rosa is interviewed by Lukas Pairon for the 15th episode of the SIMM-podcast on his theory of ‘being in resonance’.



More info

Music Saved Them They Say

PhD-research for the University of Ghent (doctoral program Department of Political and Social Sciences, Conflict Research Group), in collaboration with and with the support of the School of Arts (University College of Ghent)

supervisor: Prof. Koen Vlassenroot (head of the Conflict Research Group, a multidisciplinary research unit at the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences of the University of Ghent –

This PhD-research is interested in understanding how the experience of structured musical practice and education can have an influence on the lives of young people in the difficult living conditions of Kinshasa. The young musicians who have participated in this research come out of complicated social backgrounds – young adult men who were members of violent gangs, and young adult men and women who were as so-called ‘witch’-children living in the streets of Kinshasa. They all believe that their becoming musicians has played an important role in (re-)constructing their lives, and express this by telling us that they were “saved by music”.

Research question:

What is the significance of music making proposed as part of social music projects to young people in the poverty-stricken and often violent surroundings of Kinshasa?


A qualitative approach is taken, closely following several case studies in Kinshasa (DR Congo) of young musicians (17 to 41 years old) who report that important social changes happened in their lives thanks to their study and practice of music. The main research tools of this PhD are semi-structured individual interviews and focus groups, as well as participative observation. The fieldwork was spread over a period of four years, with preliminary interviews in 2012 and 2013 (one month), and then six times one month of fieldwork in 2014 and in 2015. The data include transcriptions of a total of up to 160 hours of interviews.


An article shortly presenting this research can be found here (in Dutch) and here (in French).

Documentary ‘Espace Masolo’


by Quentin Noirfalisse

released in July 2017

Teaser of film ‘Les Beta Mbonda’


by Marie-Françoise Plissart

release planned end 2018

‘Music Makes Me Fly’


excerpt film The Exchange

(Marc Temmerman / Fred Demolder)