Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital

Sarah Thornton

Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital
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Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital

Sarah Thornton

This book is a highly innovative contribution to the study of popular culture. Focusing on the youth cultures that revolve around dance clubs and raves, Sarah Thornton highlights the values of authenticity and hipness and explores the complex hierarchies that emerge within the domain of popular culture.Using a rich combination of methods, Thornton paints a picture of club cultures as ‘taste cultures’ brought together by micro-media (like flyers and listings), transformed into self-conscious ‘subcultures’ by niche media (like the music and style press), and sometimes recast as ‘movements’ with the aid of mass media (like tabloid newspaper front pages). She also analyses the changing status of the medium of recording, from a marginal second-class entertainment in the 1950s to the much celebrated, dominant form of clubs and raves in the 1990s. Drawing from the work of Pierre Bourdieu, Thornton coins the term ‘subcultural capital’ to make sense of the distinctions made by ‘cool’ youth, paying particular attention to their disparagement of the ‘mainstream’ against which they measure their alternative cultural worth. Well illustrated with case studies, very readable and theoretically innovative, Club Cultures will become established as a key text in cultural and media studies and in the sociology of culture.

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