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Understanding the Alteration and Decline of a Music Scene: Observations from Rave Culture

Tammy L. Anderson
Sociological Forum
Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jun., 2009), pp. 307-336
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40210403
Page Count: 30
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Understanding the Alteration and Decline of a Music Scene: Observations from Rave Culture
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Abstract

The sociological study of scenes--music and otherwise--has flourished in the latter twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Most research has documented a scene's origins or its "evolution" into mainstream culture. Fewer studies have systematically addressed what leads to a scene's alteration and decline, although many scholars have partially addressed it in authenticity studies anchored in the Frankfurt School's claims about culture and economics. Are culture industries sufficient in explaining music scene transformation? The present article attempts to explain the cultural transformation of the Philadelphia rave scene and to articulate its relevance for other kinds of social worlds. Using a multimethod ethnographic approach, I show that five forces (generational schism, commercialization, cultural otherness/deviance and self destruction, social control, and genre-based scene fragmentation) help explain the alteration and decline of the rave scene from its high point in the mid to late 1990s to its diminished and fragmented state presently. In describing these forces, I hope to move beyond culture industry narratives toward a broader explanation of cultural change, one that is lacking not only in music scene studies, but also in literatures on many other kinds of social worlds.

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