1st Edition

The Sociology of Wind Bands
Amateur Music Between Cultural Domination and Autonomy

ISBN 9781138248564
Published September 6, 2016 by Routledge
246 Pages

USD $62.95

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Book Description

Despite the musical and social roles they play in many parts of the world, wind bands have not attracted much interest from sociologists. The Sociology of Wind Bands seeks to fill this gap in research by providing a sociological account of this musical universe as it stands now. Based on a qualitative and quantitative survey conducted in northeastern France, the authors present a vivid description of the orchestras, the backgrounds and practices of their musicians, and the repertoires they play. Their multi-level analysis, ranging from the cultural field to the wind music subfield and to everyday life relationships within bands and local communities, sheds new light on the social organisation, meanings and functions of a type of music that is all too often taken for granted. Yet they go further than merely portraying a musical genre. As wind music is routinely neglected and socially defined in terms of its poor musical quality or even bad taste, the book addresses the thorny issue of the effects of cultural hierarchy and domination. It proposes an imaginative and balanced framework which, beyond the specific case of wind music, is an innovative contribution to the sociology of lowbrow culture.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface to the English edition; Introduction; Part I On the Fringes of the Musical Field: Did you say ’lowbrow music’?; The wind band world. Part II The Ecology and Economy of an Amateur Practice: Musical Integration; The social life of the bands. Part III Perspectives on Cultural Autonomy: The transfer of social constraint; Social displacement and the ’musicalization’ of the practice; Appendices; References; Index.

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Vincent Dubois is Professor of sociology and political science at the University of Strasbourg and Florence Gould member at the Institute for advanced study, Princeton, USA. He has published several books on social and cultural issues, including The Bureaucrat and the Poor: Encounters in French Welfare Offices, Farnham, Ashgate, 2010. Jean-Matthieu Méon is Senior Lecturer in media studies at the University of Lorraine. He has published extensively on censorship, low and popular culture, including comic books and pornography. Emmanuel Pierru is Senior Researcher at the CNRS (CERAPS, University of Lille). He has published extensively on the lower classes, unemployment and cultural practices. Translator Jean-Yves Bart specialises in social science translations from French into English. He is the translator of Vincent Dubois, The Bureaucrat and the Poor.


'A wonderful book, historically sensitive, theoretically attuned, empirically rigorous, and analytically deft. Of interest to scholars of both music and culture, it deserves a place along such celebrated works as Ruth Finnegan's Hidden Musicians.' Timothy J. Dowd, Emory University, USA 'A compelling study of the way in which traditional non-professional wind ensembles have adapted to changing social, political, and cultural conditions. The book beautifully illuminates how an institution that the dominant culture in France has not recognized eludes conventional cultural classifications and has resisted the kind of cultural domination that Pierre Bourdieu so powerfully analyzed.' Jane F. Fulcher, University of Michigan, USA 'This is a wonderful and moving study of wind bands and their followers, making sympathetic sense of their social and musical worlds in terms of their location between "highbrow" musical forms and the commercial genres of the popular music industry. A richly illuminating study which adds greatly to our understanding of a neglected musical culture.' Tony Bennett, University of Western Sydney, Australia ’This publication is to be welcomed by musicologists and sociologists as a substantial and well-researched contribution to our understanding of wind bands’. Music and Letters