9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN05 Sociology of Consumption

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Consumption of Arts Building II, C5.02

How big is the fence around music genres? An empirical analysis of people's classification of artists and bands within music genres

Music genre classifications pervade, in record shops, on the radio, on the web, in surveys, etc. Yet classifying music into genres is no easy task, certainly given the pertinence of genres as symbolic markers, as means for social distinction. In this paper we want to investigate to what extent genre boundaries are permeable and differ according to the characteristics of the classifier. More specifically, we analyze how people classify favoured artists and bands within given music genres using data from an audience survey conducted in Flanders (Belgium) in 2007 (n = 879). Our main objectives are twofold; using multiple correspondence analysis we try first to visualize distances between genres and different artists/bands both within and between genres. Second, we want to probe into how differing classifications are socially embedded. Several linkages between music genre preference and social background characteristics have been repeatedly demonstrated. However, little is known about how well music tastes respect the scholarly genre-demarcations or rather cross these boundaries. In this way we hope to gain insight on the versatility of genre-artist connections, on the breadth of artists/bands included within certain genres, and finally on the social structuring of certain classifications.