‘Problem music’ and subcultures

Adrian C. North and David J. Hargreaves

in The Social and Applied Psychology of Music

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780198567424
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191693656 | DOI:
‘Problem music’ and subcultures

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Reports that some songs are considered promoting suicidal tendencies are no longer news. This chapter asks whether the protesters are right to be concerned, what action is justified, and why young people should be so interested in musical subcultures. After considering more formal content analyses of pop music songs and videos, the chapter describes the research that has asked directly whether an interest in ‘problem music' is associated with delinquency, drug use, permissive sexual attitudes, sexual discrimination, and self-harm or suicide. The chapter also looks at theoretical accounts of censorship and whether the available evidence suggests a limitation of young people to pop music. Finally, the chapter addresses the role of music in youth subcultures by describing the extent to which musical taste functions as a ‘badge’ of identity, the uses and gratifications that music provides young people, and the role of musicians as celebrities.

Keywords: problem music; musical subcultures; delinquency; censorship; badge of identity

Chapter.  42609 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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