Beyond the Master Narrative of Youth: Researching Ageing Popular Music Scenes

Authored by: Nicola Smith

The Ashgate Research Companion to Popular Musicology

Print publication date:  December  2009
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754664765
eBook ISBN: 9781315613451
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041986


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Popular music has consistently been tied to youth. Stemming from the Chicago School studies of urban existence and delinquency, music has been highlighted as a component in gang formation. Thus the entry of popular music into sociological study was contextualized in relation to urban youth formations, deviant behaviour and the social – as opposed to psychological – reasons for, and implications of, subcultural participation. 1 Subsequent Birmingham School subcultural studies focused more directly on popular music, yet continued to define music-related activity as a form of resistance and rebellion, but also exclusively for the young. 2 The aim of academic popular music investigation has thus been contained within seeking to achieve an understanding of societal problems led by youth and to map deviant behaviour and alternative (that is, non-mainstream, non-adult) style. In critique of the Birmingham School Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) this chapter moves beyond notions of (youth) activity as fixed, spectacular and contained within the temporality of the cultural fad to enable recognition of active and meaningful adult scene participation. 3

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