Strength in numbers: a social history of Glasgow's popular music scene (1979-2009)

Anderson, Robert (2015) Strength in numbers: a social history of Glasgow's popular music scene (1979-2009). PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In 2004, US Time magazine named Glasgow Europe’s ‘capital of rock music’ and likened it to Detroit in its Motown heyday (Porter, 2004). In 2008 UNESCO awarded Glasgow the title of ‘City of Music’ and the application dossier submitted in support of this title noted the importance of rock and pop for the city’s musical reputation. Since the late 1970s a large number of bands have emerged from (or been associated with) the city, yet little academic research has been carried out to determine the factors behind this phenomenon.
This thesis, then, aims to address this deficiency. To do so, it questions the notion of the meaning of the term ‘scene' and highlights the changing importance, between 1979 and 2009, of different components within Glasgow’s music scene. In doing this, the thesis examines the importance and role of different ‘foci’ for sustaining popular music production at a grassroots level. These foci (where local music makers meet, socialise, and develop lasting connections) include record shops, studios (rehearsal and recording), live performance venues, and virtual social spaces of the Internet.

In foregrounding music making as a social practice, involving interactions between individuals in a wide variety of roles (rather than only between music makers), the study employs network theory as a means of exploring these connections. The resultant analysis highlights the importance of different forms of capital for cultural production. In particular, it argues that from the 1990s onwards, social capital played an increasing role in the development of Glasgow’s music scene. Expressed in terms of high levels of trust and reciprocity between scene participants, the accumulation of social capital has influenced Glasgow music makers to cultivate a distinct ‘indie’ approach to music making. This approach is manifested, not in one particular style of music, but in a plethora of cross- collaborations and a desire on the part of scene participants to create music across different art forms and media.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Scene, Glasgow, indie music, network theory, social capital.
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Music
Supervisor's Name: Cloonan, Professor Martin
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Mr Robert Anderson
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6459
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2015 10:49
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 14:58

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