Popular music in Japanese school and leisure sites : learning space, musical practice and gender
Most studies of the relationship between popular music and youth have concentrated on the leisure site. Few have considered the school, and even fewer have made any comparison between these two sites. In this study I have bridged this gap, focusing on areas that impinge within and across both sites. My ethnographic study, conducted in 1998 and 2000 in Japan, examined how high school pupils aged 15-18 approach popular music in both school and leisure sites in relation to (a) formal, semi-formal and informal spaces concerning learning practices. Whereas the formal space is dominated by supervised and assessed ways of learning and legitimised knowledge, the informal space is pupil-led and involves knowledge which is not necessarily recognised by the school. Between these two, the semi-formal space is open to non-legitimised knowledge, but is nonetheless still assessed by others. Michel de Certeau's theoretical division of everyday practices - strategies and tactics - is applied to (b) boys' and girls' techniques for dealing with popular music in relation to each learning space. Distinctions were also investigated between the ways that boys and girls engage in popular music as (c) listeners and performers. Three categories of popular music emerge from the findings and are theorised as personal, common and standard music. Firstly, 'personal music' belongs to each person at an individual level. It can be regarded as a form of Pierre Bourdieu's 'habitus', which exists as an embodied state and equates to private musical tastes or preferences. Secondly, 'common music' belongs to subcultural peer groups of the same generation, but not to older generations such as parents and teachers. It can be linked to Bourdieu's concept of 'acquired capital', and is obtained through the aforementioned three learning spaces. Thirdly, 'standard music' is shared across generations, including teachers, parents and pupils. It operates as 'inherited capital' accumulated by informal learning at home, and is often legitimated in the school. Whereas boys tended to situate their personal music in relation to the common music of their subcultural group, girls were likely to make use of common and standard music as 'camouflage' in order to conceal their personal music, particularly in the formal space.