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Title: Cosmopolitan expertise : music, media and cultural identities in Italy
Author: Varriale, Simone
ISNI:       0000 0004 5363 5958
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2014
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My thesis explores the extent to which people's nationality informs their engagement with popular culture and strategies of social distinction (Bourdieu 1984). I address this question by studying the emergence of popular music criticism as a new cultural sector in Italy, and more specifically the practices of critics working during the 1970s. Drawing on Bourdieu's field theory (1996), and combining archival research, social history and discourse analysis, the thesis explores the different dimensions of criticism as a social practice. On the one hand, it analyses the social biography of critics and the boundaries of music criticism as a cultural field; especially as regards class, gender and place. On the other hand, it studies the way critics evaluated different forms of Anglo-American popular music – such as rock, jazz and soul – and how their aesthetic claims and distinctions were received by their audience. The thesis argues that the social trajectory of critics shaped the way they distinguished themselves from national culture and, as a result, their cosmopolitan critique of Italian cultural and political institutions. Furthermore, the thesis argues that the social diversity of critics' audience, and their active contestation of critics' claims, made the music press a space for reflexivity about the inequalities shaping both the field and Italian youth culture. From a theoretical point of view, the thesis expands Bourdieu's field theory taking into account: a) the effects of global forces on the construction of national cultural fields; b) the impact of aesthetic experiences on the habitus (Bourdieu 1984) and practices of cultural producers; c) the forms of reflexivity and critique enabled by specific fields of practice. The thesis provides an original contribution to the study of media, music cultures, taste and cultural production.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HM Sociology ; ML Literature of music