Lena, J. and R. Peterson. 2008. “Classification as Culture: Types and Trajectories of Music Genres.”

Lena, Jennifer C. and Richard A. Peterson. 2008. “Classification as Culture: Types and Trajectories of Music Genres.” American Sociological Review 73 (5): 697-718.

Symbolic classification as relational to belonging (affiliation) and non-belonging (conflict) – music here a means to organize people/songs. Analysis of 60 musics in US, with 12 social, organizational, and symbolic attributes. Find four genre types – avant-garde (loose, leaderless, fractious, temporary, experimental, opposition to established music), scene-based (local or Internet-linked, against rival musics, membership designated by scene activities and community press), industry-based (in established fields,national/global, produce revenue and intellectual property as driven by market, merchandising primacy… but may also induce moral panics with further media attention), traditionalist (clubs and associations, festivals, tours and academic settings, orthodoxy to tradition and stylistic tendencies, advocacy to genre, grants, etc.), primary trajectories bolded. (kx^ would jamtronica fulfill all four of these types within the scope of new economic developments?)

Classificatory schemes under-utilized, however, genre takes understanding and utility across several cultural domains (particularly music). Describes “a manner of expression that governs artists’ work, their peer groups, and the audiences for their work” (Becker 1982; Bourdieu 1983). Organizes production, consumption, organization, and processes of cultural material, as well as the embedding of larger stratified structures in which they are held. Two ways to study- “text” of a cultural item (abstracts it from the creation/consumption context – a la musicology), OR to strongly contextualize the item and defocalize the text of the studied object (a la Bourdieu – placing it within larger social spheres and relating it to structures surrounding it –this can also include the use of subculture [Thornton 1996], scene [Bennett 1997], or neo-tribe [Maffesoli 1996]) AND/OR noting cultural practices that aids to define communities, membership, and view “texts as the product of social interactions in a specific sociocultural context” (Frith 1996, here 698)

Genre, here: “Systems of orientations, expectations, and conventions that bind together an industry, performers, critics, and fans in making what they identify as a distinctive sort of music” (698) (kx^but what about the dialectical/dialogical relationship of fan consumption?)

Impacts of larger social institutions and sociocultural events in offering boundary-work to discern genres: intra-industry competition for media, fans, capital, legitimacy; general economic prosperity; war; racial-ethnic rivalries; gender relations; demography; cultural conflicts…

Signficance: a systematic analysis of music-making communities, their characteristics, and how these change over time. Previous works focus on charismatic performers, specific works, and cultural factors that promote growth of certain music groupings (see also Garofalo 2002; Toynbee 2000), as well as the structure of musical communities and social contexts that shape them – but here, focus on developmental sequences rather than mechanisms that aid transition of forms.

“Like the music, elements of dress, adorn ment, and lifestyle are exaggerated and mass marketed to new fans of Industry-based genres. The “grunge aesthetic,” for example, inspired fashion designer Marc Jacobs to incorporate flannel shirts, wool ski caps, and Doc Marten boots into Perry Ellis’s 1992 spring collection (Moore 2005). Likewise, advertisers often cap italized upon the popularity of a genre to pro mote their products. In the early 1990s, for example, the moniker “alternative,” common ly used to refer to grunge rock, was used to sell consumer products like Budweiser (the “alter native beer”) and to describe the MTV program “Alternative Nation.” A generation earlier, the popularity of political protest prompted a major company to pronounce, “Columbia Records brings you the revolution” (Santelli 1980)” New fans attracted to an Industry-based genre by intensive merchandising often raise the ire of more committed genre participants. New recruits argue over what constitutes authentic ity in music, musicians, and signs of group affiliation (Grazian 2004; Peterson 1997), while committed, longer-term fans and performers engage in a discourse about lost authenticity (Cantwell 1984; Eyerman and Jamison 1998; Lopes 2002). This tension is sometimes divisive enough to propel some genre members into forming new genres, either Avant-garde or Traditionalist.” (705-706).

“Periodic gatherings of genre artists and fans at festivals, celebratory concerts, and reunions are characteristic of Traditionalist genres. These rituals give devotees the chance to gather and momentarily live in the spirit of the genre and reaffirm its continuity (Rosenberg 1985). New and old performers will often play together, enacting a ritual of renewal through the vener ation of the old timers and the “discovery” of new talent. Performers and promoters com monly rely on employment outside the genre, so these gatherings provide the most significant proportion of their earnings from performing genre music. They may also earn additional money from selling records, musical instru ments, and genre-related ephemera. Many fans sing, play an instrument, or act as promoters of genre events, so the division of labor is less distinct between fan, artist, and industry than in Industry-based or fully-developed Scene-based genres” (706)
“Retrospectively, adherents of Traditionalist genres decry what they identify as the adulterating consequences of commercial exploitation of genre music, and they censure artists who are seen as catering to corporate interests or values” (706) .

Social categories (such as race, class, education, origins) used to demonstrate authenticity, “demographic profiling”.

Musical and genre development as pressing through the “routinization of charisma” a la Weber (1947), broadening into diverse developments.

“Multinational corporations often inhibit musical innovation; to sustain profits, firms constrain artists to produce only margin ally different aesthetic content” (here, 714, Dowd 2004; Lopes 1992; Peterson and Berger 1975; Weisbard 2008). Technological innovation crucial for scene and industry based genres, emergence of new genres (Puckette 2007).

Becker, Howard S. 1982. Art Worlds. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Bennett, Andrew. 1997. “‘Going Down the Pub’: The Pub Rock Scene.” Popular Music 16:97-108.
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1993. The Field of Cultural Production. New York: Columbia University Press.
Cantwell, Robert. 1984. Bluegrass Breakdown: The Making of the Old Southern Sound. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.
Dowd, Timothy. 2004. “Concentration and Diversity Revisited: Production Logics and the U.S. Mainstream Recording Market, 1940-1990.” Social Forces 82:1411-55.
Eyerman, Ron and Andrew Jamison. 1998. Music and Social Movements. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press
Frith, Simon. 1996. Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Garofalo, Reebee. 2002. Rockin ‘Out: Popular Music in the USA. New York: Prentice Hall
Grazian, David. 2004. “The Symbolic Economy of the Chicago Blues Scene.” Pp. 31-47 in Music Scenes, edited by A. Bennett and R. A. Peterson. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.
Lopes, Paul. 1992. “Innovation and Diversity in the Popular Music Industry, 1969 to 1990.” American Sociological Review 57:56-71.
Maffesoli, Michael. 1996. The Time of Tribes: The Decline of Individualism in Mass Society. Translated by D. Smith. London, UK: Sage
Moore, Ryan. 2005. “Alternative to What? Subcultural Capital and the Commercialization of a Music Scene.” Deviant Behavior 26:229-52
Peterson, Richard. 1997. Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Peterson, Richard A. and David Berger. 1975. “Cycles in Symbol Production: The Case of Popular Music.” American Sociological Review 40:158-73.
Puckette, Miller. 2007. The Theory and Technique of Electronic Music. Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific Publishing.
Rosenberg, Neil V 1985. Bluegrass: A History. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.
Santelli, Robert. 1980. Aquarius Rising: The Rock Festival Years. New York: Delta.
Thornton, Sarah. 1996. Club Cultures: Music, Media, and Subcultural Capital. Hanover, CT: Wesleyan University Press.
Toynbee, Jason. 2000. Making Popular Music Musicians, Creativity and Institutions. London, UK: Arnold.
Weber, Max. 1947. The Theory of Social and Economic Organizations. Translated by A. M. Henderson and T. Parsons. New York: The Free Press.
Weisbard, Eric. 2008. “‘Me in the R&B Charts?’: Elton John’s ‘Bennie and the Jets’ and the British Invasion-Soul-Top 40 Nexus.” EMP Pop Music Conference, April 12, Seattle, WA


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: