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Unit information: The Sociology of Popular Music in 2015/16

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Unit name The Sociology of Popular Music
Unit code SOCI30048
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Marshall
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

The unit's central premise is that the creation and re-creation of value judgements are central to the consumption of popular music. However, these judgements are not individual whims but the outcome of wider sociological factors. The unit therefore investigates the sociological basis of popular music value judgements. This is achieved through an analysis of the most important factors within pop music discourse (such as the notion of authenticity and genre-rules) as well as by discussing how key social factors such as gender divisions and globalisation affect our understandings of popular music.


  • Help students recognise how social factors influence individual judgements within popular music
  • Show the relationship between production and consumption of popular music.
  • Encourage students to critically reflect upon their own popular music judgements.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Level 6:

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate sophisticated understanding of the social character of popular music evaluation.
  • Assess the impact of social, political and economic forces on the production and consumption of popular music.
  • Utilise and sociologically interpret non-academic sources in their answers.
  • Synthesise different topics and areas of literature covered on the unit in order to sociologically understand a specific popular music phenomenon.

Teaching Information

Option 1 – A 1hr lecture and 2 hour seminar

Option 2 – A 3 hr seminar

Assessment Information

Seen exam 100%.

Reading and References

  • Theodor Adorno (1991), The Culture Industry, Routledge, London.
  • Simon Frith and Andrew Goodwin (eds.) (1990), On Record, Routledge, London.
  • Simon Frith (1998), Performing Rites, OUP, Oxford.
  • Keith Negus (1992), Producing Pop, Arnold, London.