Sunday, 30 March 2003

A case study of the band Weezer

Jeff Rosenfeld wrote his dissertation (at Harvard, no less) on Weezer. Good lad.

"In the pages that follow, I investigate these questions by establishing a model of how the artistic merits of rock music are appraised. Utilizing the institutional framework and terminology Pierre Bourdieu establishes in his “Market of Symbolic Goods,” I frame rock music as a middlebrow art that regards itself as possessing certain elements of highbrow “legitimate” art – namely “symbolic value” beyond a work’s value as a market commodity. 

I then use this institutional framework and aesthetic ideology to investigate the process by which Weezer’s reputation changed dramatically over time. Examining data from several sources: an original survey of 150 music writers, an original survey of 20,000 Weezer fans, original interviews with music writers and editors, and an analysis of a sample of 2000 articles and reviews mentioning Weezer, I argue that a strong fan following led to a reconsideration of Weezer’s artistic merits by the music press and altered the vocabulary used to discuss the band. I ultimately conclude that a number of parties play a role in deliberating claims of artistic value in rock music: music writers, artists, fans, and the commercial interests that employ writers and artists."


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