‘Rockization’: Diversity within
Similarity in World Popular Music
This chapter argues that a large part of the popular music produced and consumed in the world today is made under the influence and inspiration of Anglo-American pop/rock—or, to be more precise, it is based on the adoption and implementation of what I call the rock aesthetic. Popular music thus epitomizes the new forms of cultural diversity associated with the globalization of culture—diversities based on cores of shared practices and technologies, and on logics of eclecticism and hybridity. The chapter traces the cultural logic of the process that made the rock aesthetic the core practice of popular music in the world, provides some examples and discusses their implications. I turn first to a brief theoretical contextualization.
The globalization of culture, as process and condition, is associated with the intensification, in the final decades of the twentieth century, of the centuriesold phenomenon of inter-cultural flow of meanings and materials. It is most strongly linked to the worldwide dissemination of commodities and meanings associated with the international culture industry (films, television series, popular music and the hardware gadgets for consuming these art forms), all types of industrialized food, fashion garments, cosmetics, cars, buildings and furniture, glossy magazines, and the advertisements for all these commodities. The emergence of a world culture is also associated with ‘domains of rationalized social life’ (Meyer et al. 1997), such as business, public administration, law, medicine and science. The permeation of nation states by some or all of these components has sometimes been interpreted by stressing its homogenizing effects. Concepts such as ‘Americanization’, ‘McDonaldization’ (Ritzer 1993) and ‘cultural imperialism’ (Mattelart 1979) imply that, in many aspects of life and culture, people and societies around the globe are becoming ‘the same’, with most elements of ‘sameness’ being either ‘American’ and ‘Western’ or