Intergenerational transmission of music listenership values in five US families

Music listening guidelines and sociolinguistic analysis

Authored by: Jillian L. Bracken

The Routledge Handbook to Sociology of Music Education

Print publication date:  March  2021
Online publication date:  March  2021

Print ISBN: 9781138586369
eBook ISBN: 9780429504631
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter offers insights into how language acts as a bridge between music exposures and the development of music listening preferences within five case study families. Findings are based upon a study that examined how five families in Miami-Dade County (Miami, FL) in which neither parent self-identified as a musician, talked about music, and the resulting legacies of shared discourse within the families. The study examined discourse content, or how music values are established and transmitted between generations within a family through the communication of different standards and expectations that govern music listening. The focus of this chapter is the content of participating families’ scripts; it examines how shared discourse in families guides music listening. Discourse around music listening is engaged in sociolinguistics terms which includes examinations of the family as a discourse community (how information is transmitted within the family domain), register (ways to categorize how parents talk to their children/collective bodies of family language), and age appropriateness (a factor that determines how/when/why/where parents enforce music listening guidelines). Sociolinguistics – the study of language as it relates to society – offers a way to discuss shared discourse within families. Sociolinguistic elements found within shared family discourse comprise each family’s script around music listening and provide a blueprint for the 'musical manners' that are transmitted to children as members of their respective families. The chapter closes with a review of participating family members’ responses to and opinions of reported music listening guidelines.

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