The Passion for Music: A Sociology of Mediation: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Passion for Music: A Sociology of Mediation

1st Edition

By Antoine Hennion, translated by Margaret Rigaud


352 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781472418104
pub: 2015-06-28
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315085623
pub: 2017-07-05
from $28.98

FREE Standard Shipping!


Music is an accumulation of mediators: instruments, languages, sheets, performers, scenes, media and so on. There is no musical object ’in itself’; music must always be made again. In this innovative book, Hennion turns the elusiveness of music into a resource for a pragmatic analysis: by which collective process do we make music appear among us? Rather than offering a sociology of music, The Passion for Music listens to the lesson provided by the case of music - this art of infinite mediations. Learning from music allows us to transform the paradigm to be offered by sociology, by confronting it (from Durkheim and Weber to Bourdieu) with a different way of considering objects. For this task, Hennion draws on aesthetics (Adorno) and art history (Haskell, Baxandall), as well as science and technology studies and popular music studies (Latour, Frith, DeNora). As part of that project, The Passion for Music presents a wide-ranging series of case studies, restoring attention to the rich and varied intermediaries through which music is brought to life: from the debate around the reinterpretation of baroque music, to the classroom, the rock scene, the classical music concert, Bach’s ’social career’ in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the practices of music ’amateurs’ today. This is the first English translation of one of the most important works of French scholarship on music and society.


"Antoine Hennion, one of the foremost sociologists of music in the world, finally becomes available to English-reading audiences in this excellent and long overdue translation of his comprehensive analysis of the bewildering variety of sociological approaches to music that contemporary students of the subject have to choose from. His lucid explanations and examples are a wonderful introduction to an important and ever-growing field." - Howard S. Becker, author of Art Worlds

"The arguments in this text are worth grappling with, whether or not one works in the area of culture and music. (…) English readers of sociology inhabit a richer space now that they can encounter Hennion’s book, based on his dissertation, well after its influence has reshaped the field of the sociology of music." - Shamus Khan, Columbia University

"Hennion’s theory of mediation provides a comprehensive approach to the study of music, one which considers the training, production, and consumption of music, without dismissing its aesthetic dimension or the individual participant." - Thomas M. Kitts in VOLUME!

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction; Lasting things: Durkheim as a founding father of the sociology of culture; Transition: restoring the mediators: one method for two programmes; Before mediation: social readings of arts; Sociology and the art object: belief, illusion, artefacts; The social history of art: reinserting the works into society; The new history of art: the social in the art work; Transition: linear causes or circular causalities?; The Baroque case: musical upheavals; Transition: ‘unhappy music’ which ‘fade[s] away as soon as it is born’…: painting-and-objects versus music-and-society?; ‘What can you hear?’: an ethnographic study of a solfège lesson; Transition: music as a theory of mediation; ‘Bach today’; Intermezzo: a sociologist at the Zénith concert hall…; Music lovers: taste as an activity; Conclusion: the representation of music: in praise of musical artifice; Epilogue: ‘Vor deinen Thron’…; Bibliography; Index.

About the Authors

Antoine Hennion is one of the masters of music sociology. He is well known in the Anglophone world for his many articles published in journals such as Theory, Culture and Society, Poetics and Cultural Sociology and in key edited collections, such as Cultural Musicology (2003) and Derek Scott’s Ashgate Research Companion to Popular Musicology (2009). Hennion has held many important offices in international sociology associations (such as President of the ISA Network on Arts Sociology in the mid-1990s) and is a predominant figure in French Sociology today. He has been a visiting Professor at Princeton and Columbia.

About the Series

Music and Change: Ecological Perspectives

Music and Change: Ecological Perspectives, is a cross-disciplinary, topic-led series for scholars and practitioners. Its aim is to explore the question of how, where and when music makes a difference. If music is a dynamic ingredient of change, what are the processes and mechanisms associated with music’s powers, and how can ecological perspectives help us to understand music in action? Book proposals are welcome in any of the following areas: healthcare, social policy, political activism, psychiatry, embodiment, mind and consciousness, community relations, education and informal learning, management and organizational cultures, trauma, memory and commemoration, theories of action, self-help, conflict and conflict resolution, the life course, spirituality and religion, disability studies, palliative care, social criticism, governance, resistance, protest, and utopian communities.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Anesthesiology
MUSIC / Ethnomusicology