Early Youth Cultures of Music and Dance

Dan Laughey

in Music and Youth Culture

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780748623808
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653034 | DOI:
Early Youth Cultures of Music and Dance

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This chapter outlines a dynamic interactionism used to problematise structuralism as a framework for understanding music cultures and media, with reference to archival research. The archive in question is the Mass-Observation Archive, named after the social research organisation that generated its ethnographic material. The chapter interprets the findings of Mass-Observers located in north-west England who observed youth music and dance practices during the pre-war and intra-war years (1936–49). These practices and the various contexts in which they were enacted (ballrooms, dance schools, living rooms) are seen to resonate in particular with ideas about the ‘carnivalesque’ and everyday consumer tactics that escape the influence of producers. It is argued that the notion of what might be termed ‘promenade performances’ of demonstration and display afforded by varying levels of involvement and competence in dancing practices illustrates the significance of interactive processes of cultural exchange — or cultural transmission — scarcely evident in many contemporary youth cultural accounts.

Keywords: interactionism; structuralism; youth music cultures; Mass-Observation Archive; dance practices; promenade performances; cultural exchange

Chapter.  11956 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cultural Studies

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