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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fields, Genres, Brands


Despite the music industry's attempts to genericise world music, it is not a genre, though it is nonetheless possible to talk about world music as a field of cultural production. There are identifiable forms of capital, such as the types of authenticities musicians are expected to sound and exhibit; and there are identifiable positions available to be taken, concerning the proximity of the musician's sound to western popular music, and, most prominently, the position of whether or not to sing in English or another major European language. This essay takes up the theoretical problem of genres and fields: What is the relationship between an industry-imposed genre and a field? How do forms of capital congeal in fields? In today's neoliberal capitalism, it is clear that the fields of power and economics are increasingly encroaching on all fields of cultural production, to the extent that some genres of music have become brands. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.

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