Popular Music

Popular Music

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This collection focuses on social science perspectives on popular music since the late 1970s when the drift away from Musicology started. The latter focuses upon music as a sequence of notes and silence, rather than the social, economic, cultural and political contexts in which popular music is produced, exchanged and consumed. Since the 1970s, social scientists like Simon Frith, Larry Grossberg, Will Straw, Paul Willis, Andy Bennett, Keith Negus, Howard Becker and Sarah Thornton have intensively examined the phenomenon of popular music from a social science and cultural studies perspective. This is part of the same move in the social and cultural sciences that has magnified Visual Culture, Celebrity Culture, Television Studies, Film Studies, Media & Communication, Fashion, and much else besides as legitimate subjects ...

Editor's Introduction: Popular Music



Popular music refers to the music produced by and for the people. It is a derivation from the Latin word popularis, meaning ‘belonging to the people’. As Raymond Williams (1976:198) notes, the term ‘popular’ carries two paradoxical yet deeply entwined quantitative and qualitative meanings. The quantitative, descriptive meaning is simply the traditions and practices carried on by the people. The qualitative, evaluative meaning is the categorization of popular practice as ‘low’ or ‘base’.

Hence, what is widely liked or well favoured connotes inferiority. By the 18th century Williams notes an added inflection to the term that is more overtly ideological. Popular practice came to be regarded as conduct designed to curry favour. Doing a notable popular deed, therefore, became associated with winning ...

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