The Sage Handbook of Popular Music

PDF The Sage Handbook of Popular Music 17 février 2015

Book author
  1. Andy Bennett
  2. Steve Waksman
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The SAGE Handbook of Popular Music is a comprehensive, smartly-conceived volume that can take its place as the new standard reference in popular music. The editors have shown great care in covering classic debates while moving the field into new, exciting areas of scholarship. International in its focus and pleasantly wide-ranging across historical periods, the Handbook is accessible to students but full of material of interest to those teaching and researching in the field.
- Will Straw, McGill University

Celebrating the maturation of popular music studies and recognizing the immense changes that have recently taken place in the conditions of popular music production, The SAGE Handbook of Popular Music features contributions from many of the leading scholars in the field. Every chapter is well defined and to the point, with bibliographies that capture the history of the field. Authoritative, expertly organized and absolutely up-to-date, this collection will instantly become the backbone of teaching and research across the Anglophone world and is certain to be cited for years to come.
- Barry Shank, author of ′The Political Force of Musical Beauty′ (2014)

The SAGE Handbook of Popular Music provides a highly comprehensive and accessible summary of the key aspects of popular music studies. The text is divided into 9 sections:

  • Theory and Method
  • The Business of Popular Music
  • Popular Music History
  • The Global and the Local
  • The Star System
  • Body and Identity
  • Media
  • Technology
  • Digital Economies
Each section has been chosen to reflect both established aspects of popular music studies as well as more recently emerging sub-fields. The handbook constitutes a timely and important contribution to popular music studies during a significant period of theoretical and empirical growth and innovation in the field.

This is a benchmark work which will be essential reading for educators and students in popular music studies, musicology, cultural studies, media studies and cultural sociology.


Our deepest gratitude goes to our contributors, all thirty-six of them. It was up to us to come up with a framework that represented some of the richness and sophistication of popular music studies as a field, but our framework was a faint sketch on an otherwise blank canvas. The individual contributors took our instructions and ran with them, working within the terms we provided but interpreting them in ways that were always illuminating and sometimes surprising. It is on the strength of their work that this book has the breadth and depth it has, and emerges as a fully fleshed out portrait of the state of popular music studies in 2015. We thank Chris Rojek at SAGE for inviting us to edit this collection. Chris and his colleague at SAGE, Gemma Shields, have shown great patience for a long and sometimes trying process of putting this book together. Their unstinting support was essential for helping us to get to the finish line. Finally we thank those many scholarly groups throughout the world who continue to promote popular music studies and demonstrate its significance for our understanding of musical and cultural practice in local and global contexts.


Despite its status as a relatively recent academic field of research, popular music studies has made significant leaps over the last thirty years, both in terms of the breadth of its focus and institutional support for its core concerns. The foundations of popular music studies were established over a period of ten years between the late 1960s and the late 1970s, punctuated at intervals by the publication of highly influential books such as Dave Laing’s (1969) The Sound of Our Time, R. Serge Denisoff and Richard A. Peterson’s (eds.) (1972) The Sounds of Social Change, Wilfred Mellers’s (1973) Twilight of the Gods and Simon Frith’s (1978) The Sociology of Rock (republished in 1981 as Sound Effects). As the scholars associated with these titles collectively illustrate, from its very beginnings, the academic study of popular music was a multi-disciplinary affair and this is something that has remained a centrally defining feature.

Complementing the evolution of popular music studies in this formative period was the stimulus provided by emergent forms of music journalism from 1966 onward. As rock grew to a position of dominance in the wider field of Anglo-American popular music production during the 1960s its economic rise was accompanied by a new set of journalistic outlets, designed to explain its cultural and political impact. In the UK, long-standing music publications such as Melody Maker (founded in 1926) and New Musical Express (founded in 1952) turned their attention to ‘rock’ with new focus during the early and mid-1960s, and by the early 1970s were joined by other, newer publications such as Sounds and Let It Rock, which first appeared in 1970 and 1972, respectively, and were dedicated to rockrelated news and criticism. Meanwhile in the US, Crawdaddy (founded in 1966) and Rolling Stone (founded in 1967) led the way towards a burgeoning rock press that encouraged readers to invest the music with deep cultural importance and to take an interest in the historical roots of rock as well as its contemporary currents. Non-academic histories of rock such as Charlie Gillett’s (1983 [1970]) The Sound of the City and Greil Marcus’s (1975) Mystery Train provided models for the writing of rock history that academic scholars of rock and pop would seek both to emulate and to critique; and the dialogue between academic and journalistic writing on popular music has remained ongoing, with many key figures – including Simon Frith, the British sociologist who did much to establish the legitimacy of popular music studies as a field – working between the two spheres.
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