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BASS Philosophy and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Sociology of Popular Music

Unit code SOCY20012
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Sociology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

Music is a form of social interaction; something that we ’do’ with others and collectively create, taking up artist, audience and/or support (e.g. managerial, promotion, engineer) roles. As such it is interwoven with other social (including economic and political) activities and with our sense of identity. ‘Sociology of Popular Music’ approaches music from this point of view, exploring issues of taste and meaning; the industry; genre and locality-based music ‘worlds’; and the social divisions (e.g. class, race and gender) which influence our musical involvement. The various studies discussed on the course utilise a wide range of research methodologies, from archival and ethnographic approaches, through interviews to more quantitative analysis. In addition, we discuss the ideas of a number of leading sociological theorists, including Becker, Adorno and Bourdieu. As the title suggests, the focus is primarily (though not exclusively) upon Western popular music.

Aims

  • Introduce students to a sociological perspective upon music and popular music in particular.
  • Provide students with an understanding of the dynamic and interactive relationship between popular music, culture and society.
  • Explore the significance of a number of key sociological theorists for an understanding of popular music.
  • Reflect upon different methods of sociological enquiry, how they might be applied to the study of music and what they can teach us.

Consider how social divisions (class, gender, ethnicity and age) shape and are shaped by music.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will: 

  • Be able to take a sociological perspective when thinking about music.
  • Have a critical understanding of the social dimensions of music.
  • Understand the dynamic and interactive relationship between popular music, culture and society
  • Understand and be able to evaluate the main ideas of a number of key sociological theories of music, including Adorno, Bourdieu and Becker.
  • Understand the ways in which various social divisions both shape and are shaped by music.
  • Have a critical appreciation of the potential and the limits of different methods of social research for analysing the social aspects of popular music.

Teaching and learning methods

Two hour lecture, one hour tutorial

Assessment methods

Exam and essay (50/50) with a mid-semester essay and end of semester exam.

Feedback methods

All sociology courses include both formative feedback – which lets you know how you’re getting on and what you could do to improve – and summative feedback – which gives you a mark for your assessed work.

Recommended reading

Crossley, N. (2020) Connecting sounds: the social life of music, Manchester, Manchester University Press.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nick Crossley Unit coordinator

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