Classification as Culture: Types and Trajectories of Music Genres

  title={Classification as Culture: Types and Trajectories of Music Genres},
  author={Jennifer C. Lena and Richard A. Peterson},
  journal={American Sociological Review},
  pages={697 - 718}
Questions of symbolic classification have been central to sociology since its earliest days, given the relevance of distinctions for both affiliation and conflict. Music and its genres are no exception, organizing people and songs within a system of symbolic classification. Numerous studies chronicle the history of specific genres of music, but none document recurrent processes of development and change across musics. In this article, we analyze 60 musics in the United States, delineating… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

Genre Complexes in Popular Music

This analysis shows that the musical universe is not monolithically organized but rather composed of multiple worlds that are differently structured—i.e., uncentered, single-centered, and multi-centered.

Innovation or deviation? The relationship between boundary crossing and audience evaluation in the music field

This research conducts systematical research on the effect of spanning behavior by musicians with a particular focus on the structural heterogeneity of categorical boundaries and suggests that genre-generalist musicians who combine distinct music genres are more likely to be devaluated by listeners compared to genre-specialists who adhere to a single genre.

Multidimensional facets of cultural distinction in the music domain : context, methods, and meanings

From different traditions, research in the field of sociology of cultural taste and consumption has argued that contemporary societies are symbolically stratified through cultural engagement. These

Music genres as historical artifacts: the case of classical music

This article reflects on the use of predetermined genre lists to measure patterns in music taste and, more specifically, classical music taste. Classical music as a whole is in quantitative research

Movements, Aesthetics, and Markets in Literary Change: Making the American Labor Problem Novel

One path to cultural innovation in artistic and literary fields is differentiation of a genre into new subgenres. But what are the dynamics at work in such a process? This article addresses that

Genres and inequality in the creative industries

Genres organize and facilitate cultural, creative and media production and consumption but are rarely central categories in extant research on creative industries. With this editorial article, we aim

Creative Producers and Gender Relations: A Field Analysis of Two Grassroots Music Scenes

This dissertation uses a comparative case study of two grassroots music scenes—the folk music and heavy metal scenes in Toronto—to examine gender relations among cultural producers. I collect data

The musical genre: between rhetorical discursivity and the labels of market

Genus, the word comes from the Latin from which our term gender means family, race. This level of “kinship” that certain musical discourses have with each other has sparked discussions ranging from



Alternative country: Origins, music, world‐view, fans, and taste in genre formation

It is exciting to observe genre formation as a style of music is being consolidated. Think, for example, of going back to 1916 and seeing the early developments in the music we now know as jazz, to

Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival and American Society, 1940-1970

This study reconstructs the history of the folk-music revival in the States, tracing its origins to the early decades of the 20th century. Drawing on scores of interviews and numerous manuscript

The racial politics of hybridity and ‘neo-eclecticism’ in contemporary popular music

This paper explores some forms of rock/rap hybridity and a historically related shift toward a greater eclecticism in consumption practices in popular music in the United States in the late 1990s, a

Cycles in Symbol Production: The Case of Popular Music

This study questions the common assertion that culture forms go through cycles. Data on the structure of the music industry and the sorts of music produced over 26 years are examined. Periods of

Repertoires and cycles of collective action

The modern era has generated a bewildering profusion of popular protest including widespread social movements and sporadic revolutionary upheaval. Despite the seemingly chaotic character of such

Genre Matters: Response

ach of the papers I selected reminds us that the matter of genre is never an issue of definition or taxonomy, but of dynamic formation. With the novel, this issue of formation, through gestures of

Carnival music in Trinidad : experiencing music, expressing culture

Designed for undergraduates with little or no background in world music, Music in Trinidad is one of several volumes that can be used along with Thinking Musically, the main book in the Global Music

Meaning and membership: samples in rap music, 1979–1995

Genre in Three Traditions: Implications for ESL

Within the last two decades, a number of researchers have been interested in genre as a tool for developing L1 and L2 instruction. Both genre and genre-based pedagogy, however, have been conceived of