Connecting sounds

The social life of music

Author: Nick Crossley

This book argues that music is an integral part of society – one amongst various interwoven forms of social interaction which comprise our social world; and shows that it has multiple valences which embed it within that wider world. Musical interactions are often also economic interactions, for example, and sometimes political interactions. They can be forms of identity work and contribute to the reproduction or bridging of social divisions. These valances allow music both to shape and be shaped by the wider network of relations and interactions making up our societies, in their local, national and global manifestations. The book tracks and explores these valances, combining a critical consideration of the existing literature with the development of an original, ‘relational’ approach to music sociology. The book extends the project begun in Crossley’s earlier work on punk and post-punk ‘music worlds’, revisiting this concept and the network ideas underlying it whilst both broadening the focus through a consideration of wider musical forms and by putting flesh on the bones of the network idea by considering the many types of interaction and relationships involved in music and the meanings which music has for its participants. Patterns of connection between music’s participants are important, whether they be performers, audience members or one of the various ‘support personnel’ who mediate between performers and audiences. However, so are the different uses to which participants put their participation and the meanings they co-create. These too must be foci for a relational music sociology.

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