The Sociology of Wind Bands: Amateur Music Between Cultural Domination and Autonomy, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Sociology of Wind Bands

Amateur Music Between Cultural Domination and Autonomy, 1st Edition

By Vincent Dubois, Jean-Matthieu Méon, translated by Jean-Yves Bart


246 pages

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Paperback: 9781138248564
pub: 2016-09-09
Hardback: 9781409461852
pub: 2013-05-15
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pub: 2016-03-03
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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.


'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

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.

About the Authors

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.

About the Series

Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series

Popular musicology embraces the field of musicological study that engages with popular forms of music, especially music associated with commerce, entertainment and leisure activities. The Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series aims to present the best research in this field. Authors are concerned with criticism and analysis of the music itself, as well as locating musical practices, values and meanings in cultural context. The focus of the series is on popular music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a remit to encompass the entirety of the world’s popular music.

Critical and analytical tools employed in the study of popular music are being continually developed and refined in the twenty-first century. Perspectives on the transcultural and intercultural uses of popular music have enriched understanding of social context, reception and subject position. Popular genres as distinct as reggae, township, bhangra, and flamenco are features of a shrinking, transnational world. The series recognizes and addresses the emergence of mixed genres and new global fusions, and utilizes a wide range of theoretical models drawn from anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, media studies, semiotics, postcolonial studies, feminism, gender studies and queer studies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Big Band & Swing