CHAPTER 4

Towards Everyday Consumption
and Production: Approaching Music
Audiences and Performances

In the previous chapter it was argued that de Certeau's(1984) 'tactics' and the idea of texts as read provided an alternative framework to orthodox structuralist accounts of dominance and resistance, as typified by much of the subcultures literature discussed in Chapter 2. In the context of audience research, the classic 'Encoding/decoding' model (Hall 1992) and the semiotics which informed it have been challenged by more detailed ethnographic investigations of everyday life. Abercrombie and Longhurst (1998) contend that these audience ethnographies reconfigured previous models of simple and mass audiences to those of diffused audiences. Simple audiences are co-present at live events such as theatre productions. Mass audiences consume events through media of mass communications, some events of which are simultaneously consumed by simple audiences. The BBC's Top of the Pops, for instance, is consumed by both a studio (simple) and a mass (television) audience. By contrast, diffused audiences are not party to any singular event but consume several via 'a fusion of different forms of the media' (1998: 76). Being a member of a diffused music audience is not like the spectacular experience of being a committed member of a youth subculture or other constructed youth cultural world. As Ulf Boethius (1995) argues in relation to youth music and media consumption, 'Engagement has decreased; we do not listen or watch as attentively as we used to […] the need for all-absorbing aesthetic experiences has diminished' (1995: 151). Rather, being an audience member in modern societies is 'constitutive of everyday life' and at the same time a performative experience because the media 'provide an important resource for everyday performance' (1995: 68 and 74). As such, diffused audiences can be situated within a 'Spectacle/Performance Paradigm' (hereafter SPP)–they engage in interactive processes of spectacle and narcissism because 'the aim of modern life is to see and be seen' (Abercrombie and Longhurst 1998: 81).

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