Exploring the consumption and use of popular music as a means of expressing an adolescent's identity during the socialisation process
Understanding the way in which Inusic is chosen and used by adolescents to express
identity is explored in this thesis. Given the increasing diversity of familial structures,
the social backdrop and environment in which teenagers are raised is also considered
to be salient. The record industry continues to consider 'youth' as a homogenous
target audience, differentiating only between male and females and grouping theln by
age (15-24 years). This does not account for the rise in early teenage consUlnption nor
does it facilitate an understanding of Inusic use and consumption. This study explores
the 'journey' of adolescence and the role of music, family and friends in this process.
36 teenagers were recruited to ascertain the views and experiences of adolescents and
the role Inusic plays in identity expression.
Initial interviews were held with 12 teenagers ranging in age frOln 12-to-17 years.
Follow-up, longitudinal interviews were then conducted six months to a year later
with the satne respondents. Ten of these respondents were then 'recruited' to become
'experts' and interviewed a close friend, a member of their friendship group and one
of their parents. The in-depth interviews conducted by the author explored the role of
Inusic in identity expression considering if and how this role would change over tilne.
This was to understand the influence of friends and the role of fatnily Inembers in
identity fonnation during this period of socialisation. A more ethnographic approach
was then en1ployed as 10 teenagers became 'researchers', designing their own
interviews and independently conducting and recording their 'own' research. This
gave credibility and validity to the initial research findings and provided a dilnension
to the research that the author would be unable to obtain on his own Inerit.
Although there were issues on which the adolescents agreed unanilnously, many
expressions of identity through Inusic and associated semiotic cOlnlnunication were
viewed differently by males and females and those raised in a variety of fatnily
environments. The findings also illustrated that the use of and dependence on music
varied between teenagers raised in intact, blended and single parent fatnilies and that
this was relevant for understanding music consUlnption as well as providing a
foundation for Inore targeted communication approaches. The teenage experts who
conducted their 'own' research also 'interpreted' their own data which contributed to
an understanding of the difference between the 'close friend' and Inelnber of a
Using the infonnation from this research, key characteristics associated with
-adolescent Inusic consumption provided a basis for profiling teenage music
conSUlners. These segments included adolescents who were' extreme' or 'chameleon'
like in their behaviour ancithose who were more' experiential '. By exploring identity
expression, Inusic consUlnption and the social context in which the adolescents were
raised, this research has implications for the way in which research is conducted by,
for and with adolescents and for the music industry and their approach to
understanding the teenage market and the future consumption of music itself