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Heavy genealogy: mapping the currents, contraflows and conflicts of the emergent field of metal studies, 1978-2010

Brown, A.R (2011) 'Heavy genealogy: mapping the currents, contraflows and conflicts of the emergent field of metal studies, 1978-2010.' Journal for Cultural Research, 15 (3). pp. 213-242. ISSN 1479-7585

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Abstract

What is metal studies? How can we define and characterize it? How has it emerged as a body of academic enquiry? What are its dominant disciplinary strands, theoretical concepts and preferred methodologies? Which studies have claimed most attention, defined the goals of scholarship, typical research strategies and values? How has the claim for the legitimacy or symbolic value of metal scholarship been achieved (if it has): over time and through gradual acceptance or through conflict and contestation? How can this process of formation, or strategy of legitimation, be mapped, examined and interrogated and which methods of historical, institutional and cultural analysis are best suited to this task? Working with the most complete bibliography to date of published research on heavy metal, music and culture (the MSBD), this article employs Foucault’s archaeological “method” to examine the institutional, cultural and political contexts and conflicts that inform the genealogy of this scholarship. Such analysis reveals a formative, largely negative account of heavy metal to be found in the “sociology of rock”; a large volume of psychology work, examining heavy metal music preference as an indicator of youth risk, deviance and delinquency; sociological work on youth and deviancy critical of the values of this research and its links to social policy and politics; culminating in the work of Weinstein and Walser, who advocate a perspective sympathetic to the values of heavy metal fans themselves. Following Bourdieu, I interpret such symbolic strategies as claims for expertise within the academic field that are high or low in symbolic capital to the extent they can attain disciplinary autonomy. I then go on to examine the most recent strands of research, within cultural studies and ethnomusicology, concerned with the global metal music diaspora, and consider to what extent such work is constitutive of a coherent subfield of metal studies that can be distinguished from earlier work and what the implications of this might be.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2017 16:31
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2017 16:31
URI: http://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/6092
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