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Consuming Popular Music: Individualism, Politics and Progressive Rock

Martin Johnes Orcid Logo

Cultural and Social History, Volume: 15, Issue: 1, Pages: 115 - 134

Swansea University Author: Martin Johnes Orcid Logo

Abstract

Historians have maintained that popular music had an influence upon individuals and in turn society. Yet the historiography of popular music has focussed far more on bands and wider social reactions to the music than on understanding how and why fans consumed music. This article demonstrates how a m...

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Published in: Cultural and Social History
ISSN: 1478-0038 1478-0046
Published: 2018
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa36203
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first_indexed 2017-10-23T19:12:40Z
last_indexed 2018-08-29T19:27:01Z
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spelling 2018-08-29T14:06:42.0799532 v2 36203 2017-10-23 Consuming Popular Music: Individualism, Politics and Progressive Rock 8aa6d8da22a168889f76c9a5a6e5fa84 0000-0001-9700-5120 Martin Johnes Martin Johnes true false 2017-10-23 AHIS Historians have maintained that popular music had an influence upon individuals and in turn society. Yet the historiography of popular music has focussed far more on bands and wider social reactions to the music than on understanding how and why fans consumed music. This article demonstrates how a more fan-centric approach can allow for more subtle understandings of the influence and role of popular music in the twentieth century. During the 1970s, progressive rock was an important part of life for many young music fans. It provided them with escape, entertainment and a sense of individualism, community, and intellectual reward, much of which centred upon the idea that the genre was different, uncommercial and difficult to access and understand. Progressive rock also encouraged some debate around issues of class amongst the young and helped cement the importance of individualism in middle-class and educated circles. However, many of the values articulated in progressive rock, not least the discontent with contemporary society and the emphasis on intellectual values, were also shared by many within the broader social framework that fans wanted to rebel against. Moreover, other musical subgenres liked to imagine themselves as similarly ‘different’ and thus progressive rock shows that the real significance of popular music for historians is not the music itself but rather how it was consumed and thought about by the fans themselves. Journal Article Cultural and Social History 15 1 115 134 1478-0038 1478-0046 popular music; youth culture; middle class; individualism 31 12 2018 2018-12-31 10.1080/14780038.2018.1426815 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14780038.2018.1426815 COLLEGE NANME History COLLEGE CODE AHIS Swansea University 2018-08-29T14:06:42.0799532 2017-10-23T16:32:07.1118989 College of Arts and Humanities History Martin Johnes 0000-0001-9700-5120 1 0036203-06122017175017.pdf ProgrockarticleREVISEDCSHversion.pdf 2017-12-06T17:50:17.1070000 Output 621520 application/pdf Accepted Manuscript true 2019-08-19T00:00:00.0000000 true eng
title Consuming Popular Music: Individualism, Politics and Progressive Rock
spellingShingle Consuming Popular Music: Individualism, Politics and Progressive Rock
Martin, Johnes
title_short Consuming Popular Music: Individualism, Politics and Progressive Rock
title_full Consuming Popular Music: Individualism, Politics and Progressive Rock
title_fullStr Consuming Popular Music: Individualism, Politics and Progressive Rock
title_full_unstemmed Consuming Popular Music: Individualism, Politics and Progressive Rock
title_sort Consuming Popular Music: Individualism, Politics and Progressive Rock
author_id_str_mv 8aa6d8da22a168889f76c9a5a6e5fa84
author_id_fullname_str_mv 8aa6d8da22a168889f76c9a5a6e5fa84_***_Martin, Johnes_***_0000-0001-9700-5120
author Martin, Johnes
author2 Martin Johnes
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doi_str_mv 10.1080/14780038.2018.1426815
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url https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14780038.2018.1426815
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description Historians have maintained that popular music had an influence upon individuals and in turn society. Yet the historiography of popular music has focussed far more on bands and wider social reactions to the music than on understanding how and why fans consumed music. This article demonstrates how a more fan-centric approach can allow for more subtle understandings of the influence and role of popular music in the twentieth century. During the 1970s, progressive rock was an important part of life for many young music fans. It provided them with escape, entertainment and a sense of individualism, community, and intellectual reward, much of which centred upon the idea that the genre was different, uncommercial and difficult to access and understand. Progressive rock also encouraged some debate around issues of class amongst the young and helped cement the importance of individualism in middle-class and educated circles. However, many of the values articulated in progressive rock, not least the discontent with contemporary society and the emphasis on intellectual values, were also shared by many within the broader social framework that fans wanted to rebel against. Moreover, other musical subgenres liked to imagine themselves as similarly ‘different’ and thus progressive rock shows that the real significance of popular music for historians is not the music itself but rather how it was consumed and thought about by the fans themselves.
published_date 2018-12-31T03:57:06Z
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