The Global Jukebox: The International Music Industry

By Robert Burnett | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

Music as popular culture

Rock ’n’ roll is the most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear.

(Frank Sinatra, testifying before the US Congress Payola hearings in 1958)

Music can and has been described in numerous ways, as folk culture, as high culture, as mass culture, and as popular culture. To find a single definition that will satisfy all is impossible and indeed pointless. What is of essential importance for this study is to develop an understanding of culture that does not separate it from the way it is created, produced, manufactured and distributed—what can be referred to as the system of production—in different social and economic systems. Consequently, the notion of the production of culture will be one of the central concerns of this study.

The conceptual confusion often surrounding the use of the term culture is clearly echoed in the use of the concepts of mass and popular culture. Lewis (1978), in a summary of the sociology of popular culture, observes that there has been little attempt at synthesis and a decided lack of agreement on basic terms and definitions. Indeed, according to Barbu (1976), the sociology of popular culture has not yet fulfilled the basic requirements of any systematic enquiry, a clear definition and a comprehensive classification. Thus in industrial societies the ‘popular’ metaphor is often used interchangeably with the ‘mass’ metaphor. What follows is an attempt at examining whatever consensus does exist for some key terms that are of use to us.


MASS CULTURE DEBATE

Mass culture is a term which has historically referred to the culture of the uneducated masses of industrial society. The term has been employed in

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The Global Jukebox: The International Music Industry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Tables xi
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - Music and the Entertainment Industry 8
  • Chapter 3 - Music as Popular Culture 29
  • Chapter 4 - The Music Industry in Transition 44
  • Chapter 5 - The Production of Popular Music 64
  • Chapter 6 - The Consumption of Popular Music 81
  • Chapter 7 - The American Example 99
  • Chapter 8 - The Swedish Example 120
  • Chapter 9 - Future Sounds: a Global Jukebox? 138
  • Postscript 149
  • Bibliography 153
  • Index 166
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