Straw, W. 1997. “Sizing Up Record Collections: Gender and Connoisseurship in Rock Music Culture.”

Straw, Will. 1997. “Sizing Up Record Collections: Gender and Connoisseurship in Rock Music Culture.” Pp. 3-16 in Sexing the Groove: Popular Music and Gender, edited by Sheila Whitely. New York: Routledge.

Despite connotation that domestic, affective, private purchase and consumption of goods is feminized – justification/compensation by men to defend record collecting as a predominantly masculine space/activity.

“Record collections are seen as both public displays of power/knowledge and private refuges from the sexual or social world; as either structures of control or the by-products of irrational and fetishistic obsession; as material evidence of the homosocial information-mongering which is one underpinning of male power and compensatory undertakings by those unable to wield that power” (4).

“Just as ongoing conversation between men shapes the composition and extension of each man’s collection, so each man finds, in the similarity of his points of reference to those of his peers, confirmation of a shared universe of critical judgement” – record collection used as a way to establish men’s worldviews, shared discourses, understandings of manhood, and expectations of masculinity – based on expertise, technical knowledge, control and command à prestige among peers, homosocial camaraderie, bonding, status, and security, which serve to exclude women (who are increasingly present within rock spaces/activities) in new and more subtle ways.

Very similar to the forms of Bourdieu’s capital that we embody/command, “Males police themselves, not only in terms of the looseness or control which mark bodily gesture, but in the ways they ‘wear’ and release the knowledges they have cultivated” (7) – as a form of capital, knowledge, skill, and (kx^?) comportment? – as is informed by external social contexts (and internal dispositions, kx) — even if record collecting may stigmatize some men (sublimated sexual repression, nerd-dom, or lack of mainstream social finesse) – reframed as heroism (exploratory music tastes, tall tales of acquisition), or as (paradoxical) resistance to mainstream values and practices (despite avid consumption).


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