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Historicising the question of socialisation into “popular music”

Marc Perrenoud
Traduction de Hélène Windish
Cet article est une traduction de :
Historiciser la question des socialisations aux « musiques actuelles » [fr]

Résumé

This article is more of a programmatic text than a specific research report. It aims to show the necessity of a historicization of the question of musical socializations, in particular in the field of popular music which appeared during the 20th century and evolved much in a few decades. Based on a set of sociohistorical works, including those conducted by the author for the last twenty-five years (field surveys in France and Switzerland mainly), the article highlights the drastic evolution of the conditions of possibility of a coming to musical practice in the last sixty years.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 We use this unsatisfactory term “popular musique” (“musiques actuelles”) by default, which is abov (...)
  • 2 Hughes Everett C., Le regard sociologique, Paris, EHESS, 1996.
  • 3 Bourdieu Pierre, La distinction, Paris, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1979.

1The aim of this article is to show the interest and importance of a historicised approach to the conditions of possibility and the modalities of engagement in the practice of “popular music”.1 It aims to shed light on generational effects and hence the “socialisation of socialisers” in the musical field over recent decades. It is therefore more the defence and illustration of an approach, or even an intellectual programme that tends to historicise fieldwork, than an article presenting the specific results of a particular piece of research. “Musical socialization” is considered here as the set of processes through which an individual acquires practical and theoretical musical skills, but also constructs a set of representations of what “being a musician” means in terms of a professional script in the social drama of work,2 and in terms of lifestyle.3

  • 4 Lehmann Bernard, L’orchestre dans tous ses éclats, Paris, La Découverte, 2002 ; Perrenoud Marc and (...)
  • 5 Hughes Everett C., Le regard sociologique.
  • 6 Becker Howard S., Les mondes de l’art, Paris, Flammarion, 1988 [1982].

2This text offers a socio-historical perspective on the question of musical socialisation outside the field of “classical” music, which is marked by a multi-century history, including strong traditions of family transmission, long-standing institutions such as conservatoires, and a professional space that is often highly regulated, particularly in major orchestras.4 Becoming a musician in the field of popular music implies a completely different path and a different career,5 built through very different socialisation processes and unfolding in a different art world.6 It is therefore necessary to look at the history of the listening and practice of “popular” music to understand how the conditions that make musical socialisation possible have evolved. From the place of music in family cultural practices to adolescent sociability, and from following an institutionalised curriculum to the potential commitment to a professional career, I will examine the (very) beginnings of careers and the different forms they have taken since the 1960s.

  • 7 The verb “musicking” was popularised by Christopher Small (Musicking. The meaning of performing an (...)
  • 8 Perrenoud Marc, “Performing for Pay: The Making and Undoing of the Music Profession”, in Rempe Mar (...)
  • 9 De Boe Julie (dir.), L’artiste : un entrepreneur ?, Bruxelles, Les impressions nouvelles, 2011; Pe (...)

3As I showed some fifteen years ago, “popular” musical careers, seen in an interactionist sense, generally begin with listening: one is “musicked” before one becomes a “musicker.”7 From 1965-1970, at the time of the pop music boom and what might be called the “romanticisation” of precariousness in the profession of musician,8 to the most contemporary era marked by the “digital revolution” and a surge in musical entrepreneurship,9 how does the shift from listening to playing occur? What is invested in this practice? What socialisation underpins the development of these different relationships to music?

  • 10 Rempe Martin and Nathaus Klaus (dir.), Musicking in Twentieth-Century Europe.
  • 11 Perrenoud Marc, Les musicos, Paris, La Découverte, 2007.
  • 12 Cardon Vincent and Grégoire Mathieu, “Les syndicats du spectacle et le placement dans l’entre-deux (...)
  • 13 Bruckholder Peter J., Groult Donald Jay and Palisca Claude V., “Part Six: the Twentieth Century an (...)

4In terms of methods and data, the discussion presented here is based on historical research conducted as part of my participation in an international academic textbook,10 which led me to investigate precisely what it meant to be a musician from one era to the next during the “long twentieth century” (including the beginning of the twenty-first) in Western Europe. This historical research into “ordinary musicians”11 involved taking a step back from the milestones and great names that have gone down in art history. It was conducted on the basis of a corpus of archives often available online and already explored in the context of more specific work, in particular on musicians’ unions in France and Great Britain,12 but also in Portugal, on the basis of the bulletins and internal documents of these organisations over the course of the century. I also drew on data from studies of changes in the music labour market, record production, radio stations, cabarets and music halls, and from accounts and testimonies of musicians who practiced hiring out and piecework, waiting for employers on the pavement of Archer Street (London) or Pigalle (Paris), as they did at the beginning of the 20th century and sometimes until the early 1960s.13 These data were supplemented by a number of interviews with people who could testify to what they had seen or experienced, in order to provide more detailed case studies: these included the daughter of a Swiss double-bass player who worked between Paris and Lausanne and then on a cruise liner in the 1930s and 1950s, a retired worker who had been an amateur drummer in the Béarn region of France in the 1950s and 1960s, a studio musician who accompanied stars in the 1960s and 1970s, and former members of the free-jazz and punk-rock generations of the 1970s and 1980s, pioneers in the institutionalisation of popular music in the 1990s.

  • 14 Perrenoud Marc, Les musicos.
  • 15 See Perrenoud Marc and Bataille Pierre, Vivre de la musique ? ; Bataille Pierre, Perrenoud Marc an (...)
  • 16 Widmann Hélène and Perrenoud Marc, Rapport d’étude sur le travail et l’emploi des musicien·ne·s à (...)

5On the other hand, this article is based on twenty-five years of research into musical practices and the profession of musician, including: a. ten years of fieldwork by participant observation in total immersion in south-west France at the turn of the century (doctoral research in anthropology14); b. five years of mixed-method research in Switzerland as part of a collective study (six people in the field) of musicians’ relationship to work and employment and their careers (director of the Musicians’ LIVES project, mainly with Pierre Bataille for the statistical part15); c. a survey currently being completed on the performing arts in Switzerland, the logic of pairing in work collectives and the processes of “talent” recognition (SNSF research programme “Consacrer les talents” with Pierre-Emmanuel Sorignet); and d. three research contracts in recent years on the careers and employment status of musicians, one in the canton of Geneva, another in the canton of Vaud and the third concerning alumni of the “Jazz” master’s programme at the Haute école de musique in Lausanne (mainly with Hélène Widmann as field researcher).16 The material studied is therefore very abundant, and this text proposes, in a modest way and with a primarily programmatic aim, to produce a synthesis in order to focus specifically on the evolution of the conditions of possibility of musical socialisation over the last few decades.

  • 17 Chagnard Samuel, “La pratique publique comme pratique-écran en conservatoire” in Joliat François ( (...)
  • 18 Perrenoud Marc and Sainsaulieu Ivan, “Pour ne pas en finir avec l’identité au travail”, Sociologie (...)

6The question of musical socialisation is most often approached from the perspective of apprenticeship, through training institutions such as conservatoires or schools of popular music.17 I propose an extended approach to these processes of musical socialisation by relating them to the evolution of the musical field as a whole since the 1960s and the advent of the “baby-boomer” generation. The first part of the article will look at the conditions that make a favourable relationship with popular music possible in the context of primary family socialisation and adolescent sociability: how, from one generation to the next, can musical reception patterns be constructed, and how are people “musicked” differently depending on their socialisation? The second part will be devoted to the frameworks and mediations available to young people who come to practice music. In other words, how does one become a “musicker”? Here again, the question will be tackled not only in terms of social background, but also in terms of generation, since the resources for learning to play music have changed considerably in recent decades. Finally, the conclusion will look at the way in which the primary and secondary musical socialisation of each generation has become sedimented in career paths, forming what might be called “sociomusical habitus” or perhaps more simply “professional identities”18 and shaping the conditions under which each individual practices the profession and the possibilities for mobility or career changes in music.

Being musicked: musical reception, primary socialisation, family and friends

  • 19 Hennion Antoine, Comment la musique vient aux enfants, Paris, Economica, 1997; Hennion Antoine, “D (...)
  • 20 Bourdieu Pierre, La distinction, Paris, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1979; Coulangeon Philippe, Les mét (...)
  • 21 Noiriel Gérard, Introduction à la socio-histoire, Paris, La Découverte 2008.
  • 22 Lahire Bernard, L’esprit sociologique, Paris, La Découverte, 2005; Lahire Bernard, Dans les plis s (...)
  • 23 Elias Norbert, Mozart. Sociologie d’un génie, Paris, Seuil, 1991.
  • 24 Bourdieu Pierre, Les règles de l’art, Paris, Seuil, 1992; Bourdieu Pierre, 2013, Manet, une révolu (...)
  • 25 Sofio Séverine, Artistes femmes. La parenthèse enchantée, xviiie-xixe siècles, Paris, CNRS Édition (...)
  • 26 Raboud Pierre, “L’hiver des musiques jeunes : la Suisse avant la pop (1960-1983)”, Riom Loïc and P(...)
  • 27 Roueff Olivier, Jazz. Les échelles du plaisir, Paris, La Dispute, 2013; Steulet Christian, “Change (...)
  • 28 As Diana Vreeland, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Magazine, put it in 1965, and it has been widely used (...)

7To understand musical socialisation in the broad sense that is proposed here, it is necessary first to look at the conditions that make it possible to listen to and practice music in childhood and adolescence. How does one come to music? The pragmatist approach defended and illustrated by Antoine Hennion over three decades is well known, from his fieldwork in Comment la musique vient aux enfants ? (How Does Music Come to Children?) to his reflections on the attachment to music.19 However the reasonably deterministic yet resolutely historical approach proposed here will draw more on the sociogenetics of cultural practices and musical tastes.20 How and under what conditions can one develop dispositions (social dispositions, but which will not appear as such) to “music”? The aim is to bring together the perspectives of sociohistory21 and dispositionalist and comprehensive sociology in the Weberian-Bourdieusian tradition, now extended by the work of Bernard Lahire.22 In the specific field of the sociology of the arts and artistic work, the approach proposed here, which consists in linking the state of the field and the dispositions of individuals, is therefore in line with the seminal work of Norbert Elias on Mozart23 and of Pierre Bourdieu on Flaubert or Manet,24 or the social history of women painters in the nineteenth century led by Séverine Sofio.25 In the mid-1960s, for the “adult” public at large, socialised around Luis Mariano and Charles Trenet, popular music, or “young music” as it was sometimes called, was a very exotic subject.26 Although, from the mid-twentieth century onwards, Afro-American jazz seems to have been received more favourably in the European metropolises than on the other side of the Atlantic, where it was not taken seriously, it should also be noted that, outside the cultivated fringe of the urban upper middle classes, “jass” was still considered by most French and Swiss people to be “Negro music.”27 Thus, depending on the social environment in which one grows up, one may be socialised in very different ways into the “young music” of the 1950s and 1960s, which primarily affected urban educated youth. After jazz, rock’n’roll in the late 1950s and pop music in the mid-1960s were generally ignored by the generation of parents born before the war. Baby-boomers were the first to experiment a socialisation into music listening that was relatively independent from their parents, and this was made possible by the development of compact technologies that enabled the individualisation and privatisation of listening: transistor radios, FM radios, LPs, record players and so on. These modes of listening were also at the heart of the new adolescent sociability and the advent of “youth,” which is widely recognised as one of the most significant social phenomena of the post-war period in the West and sometimes referred to as a youthquake.28

  • 29 Perrenoud Marc, Les musicos.
  • 30 Ibid.

8In this context, on the ordinary stages of bals populaires, guinguettes and other tea dances, musicians embodied the live production of music that was gradually becoming part of everyday life. These first-generation musicos generally took up the repertoire of French and international light music, following an unchanging sequence, since it has remained the same for the ball groups who still liven up village squares during summer festivals (a practice still very widespread in south-west France, which I had the opportunity to ethnograph twenty years ago29 and which can still be observed): they started with excerpts from the older repertoire that would appeal to the older crowd (in 1970, they played Trenet or Piaf; in 2010, Johnny Hallyday or Sheila), then they moved on to more recent productions, aimed at an audience where the proportion of young people and the alcohol level rose as time went by and the decibels increased.30 This first generation of musicians (almost exclusively men) were true pioneers, and they often had an atypical life path, either marked by a family of precarious artists, or by a strained relationship with their parents for whom such an activity could constitute neither a profession nor a career. For the teenagers of the time, who attended the concerts of these cover bands all over France, enjoying listening to and, why not, considering playing popular music was therefore a transgression, but less and less so as this music became socially integrated. The 1980s were the years of this integration. As the pioneers began to grow old and tired of running the local scene, they often developed an educational activity that was a great success with young people who were eager to practice, as I will come back to in the second part.

  • 31 Coulangeon Philippe, Les métamorphoses de la distinction.
  • 32 Bourdieu Pierre, Sur l’État, Paris, Seuil, 2012.
  • 33 Urfalino Philippe, L’invention de la politique culturelle, Paris, Fayard, 2011; Dubois Vincent, La (...)
  • 34 Boltanski Luc and Chiapello Eve, Le nouvel esprit du capitalisme, Paris, Gallimard-Seuil, 1999.

9In terms of socialisation in general and musical socialisation in particular, it is very different to belong to the next generation, to be a child of baby boomers and to have been socialised during the 1980s. For the representatives of this “generation X,” popular music was part of the cultural landscape. The major references were becoming culturally legitimate (first and foremost, The Beatles), and they were increasingly integrated into the music heritage.31 The young people of this generation were in turn fond of new musical styles such as rap and techno that might have shocked their baby-boomer parents, for whom “that’s not music,” just as their own parents where talking about rock’n’roll thirty years earlier. However, from the early 1980s in France, with the cultural policy of Minister Jack Lang, the state played its role as the central bank of symbolic capital,32 identifying and massively subsidising the “popular music” sector, in a move towards institutionalisation that became even more marked in the 1990s33 and helped to integrate “artist criticism” into a capitalism that had become “cool.”34 The generation of baby-boomer parents was acculturated. Those born just after the war listened to Bob Dylan or Elvis Presley, and Léo Ferré or Gilbert Bécaud. For their children, popular music was far less subversive at the end of the 20th century than it had been thirty years earlier, especially as the music industry was flourishing like never before (private radio, cassettes and then compact discs, international mega-tours, music videos and music television – MTV in particular).

  • 35 Peterson Richard A., “A process model of the folk, pop, and fine art phases of jazz”, Nanry Charle (...)

10Since the 1980s, popular music has covered a very large part of the cultural field, and fundamental distinctions have developed, particularly around the opposition between commercial music and creative music. Like Richard Paterson, this can be seen as the “fine art” phase of popular music.35 Artists exploring contemporary creation were closer to “serious” or experimental music: the “art rock” of the English groups of the Canterbury School, Frank Zappa and Magma, the free-jazz of Pharoah Sanders, Albert Ayler, and Sun Ra, the electro-pop-bruitist experiments of Einsturzende Neubauten and Brian Eno (to take just a few well-known examples) all claim filiations and connections with the “learned” composers Igor Stravinsky, Edgar Varese, Pierre Henry, and even Johann Sebastian Bach. At the same time, the consumption of “modern music” has become one of the most profitable sectors of the entertainment industry and the mainstay of teenage sociability.

  • 36 Donnat Olivier, Les pratiques culturelles des Français à l’ère du numérique, enquête 2008, Paris, (...)
  • 37 Donnat Olivier, Les pratiques culturelles des français à l’ère du numérique; Peterson Richard and (...)
  • 38 Bourdieu Pierre, La distinction.
  • 39 Coulangeon Philippe and Duval Julien (dir.), Trente ans après La Distinction de Pierre Bourdieu, P (...)
  • 40 Pecqueux Anthony and Roueff Olivier (dir.), Écologie sociale de l’oreille. Enquêtes sur l’expérien (...)
  • 41 Peterson Richard and Kern Roger, “Changing Highbrow Taste: From Snob to Omnivore”.
  • 42 Coulangeon Philippe, Les métamorphoses de la distinction; Bataille Pierre and Perrenoud Marc, “Fro (...)
  • 43 Charles Frédéric and Segré Gabriel, Sociologie des pratiques musicales des collégiens et lycéens à (...)

11The teenage collectives of the 1980s-1990s were informal but very powerful forums for musical socialisation.36 As in the 1950s and 1960s, teenagers continued to discover what their parents were not listening to, but with an access facilitated by the spectacular development of the music industry and, as already mentioned, often with less of a subversive dimension, unless they went for the most recent idioms (rap and techno) or the most extreme (hardcore punk or speed metal, for example) of the era. It was also in these teenage groups, where people were far from their families but not yet at music school, that they experimented with active listening and the musicalisation of their bodies, with movements that sometimes-mimicked guitar or drum playing (which would lead in later decades to the self-ironic and regressive practices of “air guitar” or “air drums”). They reproduced not only the vocal parts of the music (they sang the lyrics of “Highway to Hell,” for example) but also the instrumental parts (they sand the riff and the guitar solo of “Highway to Hell,” for example), trying to be in time and in tone, and practiced the tennis racket solo in their bedrooms or percussion on a bar counter. For some, the racket would eventually turn into a guitar and the counter into a drum kit, as the next section will show. Today, in the years 2010-2020, baby boomers are in their seventies and their children have become parents. The Beatles and Leonard Cohen (winner of the prestigious Glenn Gould Prize alongside Pierre Boulez and Yehudi Menuhin) have become consensual and legitimate cultural references, Paul McCartney has been knighted several times by the Queen of England and Bob Dylan has even won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Surveys of cultural practices show that listening to “popular music,” with all its diversity, has become the norm for all generations and all social classes.37 Forty years on from La Distinction,38 it is well known that the cultural landscape and particularly the musical landscape have changed,39 and that popular music has become a hegemonic part of people’s “sound ecologies,”40 but that there are still major fault lines. It is now within a gigantic globalised musical space that distinctions are being drawn, notably between “commercial” music produced by the entertainment industries, and “creative” music claiming artistic autonomy. This distinction cuts across virtually all musical styles: variety vs. “indie pop,” jazz animation vs. experimental jazz, gangsta rap vs. conscious rap, and so on. Thus everyone listens to popular music, but not just anyone listens to just anything. In fact, the cultural omnivorism41 that has become the hallmark of a legitimate relationship with culture is above all a mark of ease in appropriating all styles, but separating the creative wheat from the commercial chaff.42 And it is precisely on the basis of the social and cultural dispositions inherited and acquired during the various phases of socialisation that one builds up a more or less extensive and legitimate repertoire of tastes. Contemporary socialisation into music listening, as studied by Frédéric Charles and Gabriel Sergé,43 for example, is just as differentiated and distinctive today as it was in the 1960s and 1970s, even if the objects tasted and the contexts in which they are received have changed.

  • 44 Nault Jean-François, Baumann Shyon, Childress Clayton and Rawlings Craig M., “The social positions (...)
  • 45 Pariser Eli, The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You, London, Penguin Press, 2011.

12Socialisation by parents through listening to popular music, which necessarily did not exist in the 1960s, is now omnipresent: children hear what their parents listen to at home, in the car, and so on. Nevertheless, one of the main social functions of popular music, which is to subvert (parental) authority, continues to exist in teenage sociability and the extrafamilial musical socialisation it enables. However, the social homogeneity of teenage groups still has powerful reproductive effects, and it is rare for children from a rural working-class background to start listening to free jazz or indie pop under the influence of members of their group of friends. The digital revolution and free access (or access seen as free) to an almost infinite number of musical objects have not fundamentally altered this state of affairs,44 since it is well known that the algorithms that suggest music to listen to tend to “confirm” the tastes expressed by the search, in the same way as in the political domain in particular.45

Musicking: learning frameworks, pre-professional socialisation

  • 46 Deslyper Rémi, “Une ‘école de l’autodidaxie’ ? L’enseignement des ‘musiques actuelles’ au prisme d (...)
  • 47 Perrenoud Marc, Les musicos.

13How does one go from being musicked to becoming a musicker? The question of how to pass on the practice of popular music has already been widely addressed, notably in France with Rémi Deslyper’s research into the institutionalisation of electric guitar pedagogy.46 The first chapter of our book on ordinary musicians, published in the mid-2000s and devoted to learning, already addressed the conditions under which musical socialisation can lead to practice, and even professional practice.47 As children and teenagers, people listened, built themselves up as great listeners, practiced active listening and experienced the musicalisation of the body. To what extent is the transition to practice the result of a particular socialisation among all young listeners? Is this “passage à l’acte” a culmination? Once again, these questions need to be considered from a historical perspective.

  • 48 Becker Howard, Outsiders. Studies in the sociology of deviance, New York, The Free Press of Glenco (...)
  • 49 Ibid.

14In the 1960s, musicians practicing what was not yet known as popular music were socially very close to outsiders, the “dance musicians” studied by Howard Becker in the 1940s and 1950s in the United States.48 This is a small professional milieu that developed over the course of the century in line with changes in the labour market, at tea dances and bal populaires, on radio stations and in music halls, on restaurant terraces and in cabarets. In many ways, this small milieu constituted a “deviant professional group,”49 with its own codes, customs, slang and so on. Being brought up in a family of “popular” musicians meant that one inherited not only musical knowledge but also the habitus of an “ordinary artist,” practicing a profession that had little cultural or social legitimacy, but a profession nonetheless.

  • 50 Touché Marc, Guitares, guitaristes et bassistes électriques, catalogue d’exposition, Montluçon, Mu (...)
  • 51 Deslyper Rémi, “Une ‘école de l’autodidaxie’ ?”.

15However, apart from those rare cases in which someone was born into a family of popular musicians, one was condemned to be “self-taught,” in other words to do-it-yourself. In the 1960s, for those who wanted to go beyond simple reception and learn to play, even if only to reproduce the pieces they liked to listen to, there were very few places to learn, as conservatoires were reserved for “art” music. They learned a few “tricks” from young heir musicians who would act as intermediaries in areas of youthful sociability, for example by “demonstrating” a few chord positions on a guitar around a campfire.50 In this context, where there was little mediation, people spent much time listening and played “by ear,” developing a nonacademic relationship with the instrument.51

  • 52 Touché Marc, Guitares, guitaristes et bassistes électriques.

16In the 1970s, more and more young people wanted to “play music” and the guitar in particular. From 1975 onwards, in the Rock’n’Folk magazine, guitarist Marcel Dadi began publishing “tablatures” (graphic representations of the guitar strings and the squares on the neck on which to place the left-hand fingers) for his compositions in the country and finger-picking style, at a time when the continuum between listening to music and playing were becoming more widespread. While the 1960s saw the mass adoption of popular music, it was young people in the 1980s who were the first generation to take up music en masse, thanks in particular to the technological development of low-cost electric guitars and basses and transistor amplifiers – which were stronger, lighter and less expensive than tube amps – produced in the Far East.52 Public policy followed suit: in 1976, the first subsidised school specifically for popular music, the Centre d’information musicale (CIM), opened in Paris. Over the next ten years, there was a proliferation of such structures in France (the Centre musical et créatif de Nancy, CMCN; the Centre d’information et d’activités musicales, CIAM, in Bordeaux; Music’halle in Toulouse; the JAM – for jazz and popular music – in Montpellier; but also in Nantes, Strasbourg, etc.), with the support of the cultural policy of the Lang ministry, as seen above.

  • 53 Perrenoud Marc, Les musicos.
  • 54 Séca Jean-Marie, Les musiciens underground, Paris, PUF, 2001.
  • 55 Buscatto Marie, Femmes du jazz, Paris, CNRS, 2009; Hatzipetrou-Andronikou Reguina, “Déjouer les st (...)

17As a result, in the 1980s and 1990s, thousands of new musicians flocked to local venues, youth clubs and music bars. These newcomers to the job market were above all eager to play in public, even for very little money. For the musicians of the previous generation who began their careers in the 1960s, it was the beginning of “the death of the profession,” as Thierry, a drummer born in 1945 who accompanied a number of stars in the “yéyés”53 era, used to say. In fact, in the 1970s and 1980s, the model of the self-regulated professional space, of the musical milieu as a small professional group comparable to what Becker described in Chicago in the 1940s and 1950s and which had prevailed in France until then, progressively gave way to a “romanticized” version of music brought about by the spectacle of pop bohemia. The conventions that had once governed the practice of the profession were being shattered, as for many young practitioners, “music” was no longer a profession but a lifestyle, a vocation, almost a calling. Earning a living by hosting tea dances was now out of the question: they would be Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrisson, or nothing (note that Hendrix did begin his career by hosting tea dances). For many young people in the 1980s and 1990s, playing in a rock band was also, and perhaps above all, about being a rock band, reproducing the sounds, gestures and attitudes that made up a singular and charismatic expression.54 Numerous audiovisual productions have popularised this image of the “rock band”: while in the previous decades with, for example, The Blues Brothers (1979), there were still very clear references to the “profession” (the musicians in the film are all seasoned professionals), in The Commitments (1991), in Wayne’s World (1992), or even in highly consensually conformist products such as the teen series Hélène et les garçons (1992-1994), playing in a “rock band” simply seemed to be part of the normality of a fulfilled male adolescent sociability (gender inequalities deserve to be further examined than what I do here, as there are many seminal works in this field55), with little connection to practicing a profession, but with the vague fantasy prospect of being successful.

18The proliferation of schools of popular music between the 1980s and the 2000s had the dual function of absorbing many of the young people who wanted to practice and providing stable employment for a number of musicians from the previous generation, pioneers of rock, metal, jazz and punk who were tired of “chasing fees.” The latter often became major players in the institutionalisation of popular music in schools. Attended by teenagers and young adults, modern music schools were places dedicated to secondary musical socialisation. Specific instrumental techniques were taught (power chords, tapping and sweeping on the guitar, slap or muted on the bass, backbeat or double bass drum pedal on the drums, for example), and the harmonic theory behind the tracks was explained (a theory sometimes unknown to those who composed them). Rationalisation and pedagogy, then, sometimes gave rise to a paradox linked to the institutionalisation of a practice that claimed to be essentially anti-institutional. In the 1980s and 1990s, for example, the Centre musical et créatif de Nancy awarded a diploma in “Hard Rock Bass,” with a range of grades from “passable” to “very good,” just like the French Baccalauréat. Schools of popular music made a major contribution to raising the technical level of young instrumentalists at the end of the 20th century. They also provided a space for socialising musical listening as an alternative to the family and the affinity groups of early adolescence, a space with the prescriptive force of the institution, where the “good,” the “pros” would help their students discover what was “good.”

  • 56 Deslyper Rémi, Les élèves des écoles de “musiques actuelles”; Perrenoud Marc and Widmann Hélène, R (...)

19In general, however, these schools failed to provide training in the “profession” or professional socialisation. In fact, the teaching given there focused above all on instrumental technique and music theory, and not on the socioeconomic issues that structured the profession (contracts, employment status, authors’ and performers’ rights, promotion, distribution, etc.), as contemporary research has shown.56

  • 57 Hughes Everett C., Le regard sociologique.
  • 58 Perrenoud Marc and Bataille Pierre, Vivre de la musique ?

20The trend towards the institutionalisation of popular music intensified at the turn of the century and, for many ordinary musicians, teaching seems to have been an increasingly important part of the range of tasks that made up their job.57 This is clearly the case in Switzerland, where the domestic live music market is fairly small, but where the level of amateur musical practice is very high (17% compared with 8% in Europe) and there is still a significant job market in music education (just over a third of musicians in Romandy earn most of their income from teaching58). However, this is also increasingly the case in France. Whereas teaching activities used to be practically excluded from the calculation of working hours for intermittent workers in the performing arts, the number of hours of teaching that can be declared as intermittent salaried work doubled during the 2010s, rising from 70 to 140 out of a total of 507 hours of intermittent salaried work to be declared during the year in order to be compensated for each day lost the following year. The institutionalised transmission of musical practice therefore seems to be increasingly integrated into contemporary forms of musical socialisation.

21Musical training in the strict sense of the word – technical and theoretical, instrumental or vocal, solfeggio, harmonic or rhythmic – reached its peak at the beginning of the 21st century. While in the 1980s and 1990s thousands of musicians flooded onto the market and “broke the profession,” in the years 2000-2010 thousand of young people, often trained in instrumental virtuosity, were leaving the schools and saturating the local stages. However, when dozens of young people with a perfect command of musical vocabulary and instrumental techniques are competing in a town or region, what will make the difference between them is their ability to establish themselves as cultural entrepreneurs. And this ability was not developed at school, at least not so far, because the teachers belonging to previous generations were often not socialised to these uses or to valuing them, as shown by the surveys carried out in French-speaking Switzerland over the past three years: “The profession? Ah well, no, there are no lessons on the job, you’re on your own, you learn everything on the job,” said a Swiss saxophonist in his thirties in an interview (survey 2022). At a professional music school, people learn to play their instrument really well; they might learn a few milestones in the history of jazz and popular music, but that is often about it. Nowadays, being a good technician is no longer enough to become a professional, precisely because popular music schools have been training cohorts of skilled and competent instrumentalists for thirty or forty years.

  • 59 Mauger Gérard, “Talents : de Gérard Depardieu à Bernard Arnault”, Savoir/Agir, vol. 24, no. 2, 201 (...)
  • 60 Mauger Gérard, ibid.

22In order to stand out from the crowd of “good musicians,” it is now often necessary to establish oneself as a true creative entrepreneur. This may sound like an oxymoron to disinterested romantics, but it lies at the heart of the new spirit of capitalism and the contemporary ideology of individual “talent.”59 This social figure of the artist-entrepreneur is based on a combination of dispositions linked to the accumulation of two types of capital, cultural and economic. Being a musical entrepreneur means mastering the management of economic resources (start-up capital, chosen investments, income from fees, royalties, online distribution rights, costs and expenses linked to equipment, remuneration of intermediaries, etc.) and symbolic resources (a name to “grow;” social networks to occupy; aesthetic, musical, visual, clothing and semantic choices, etc.) in order to combine them effectively and make the most of them. To be a creator is to “have something to say;” to be the author of an original and singular production, recognised as such by the legitimate authorities of the art world who, depending on the case, may award a prize, a grant, or set up a major promotional campaign to support, relay and disseminate the “creation.” In neoliberal ideology, the creative entrepreneur is the archetypal talented and necessarily singular demiurge.60

  • 61 David, 32 years old, Suisse romande, april 2020 (survey “Consacrer les talents”).
  • 62 Rolle Valérie, Moeschler Olivier, De l’école à la scène. Entrer dans le métier de comédien·ne, Lau (...)
  • 63 Thibault Adrien, “Être ou ne pas être : la genèse de la consécration théâtrale ou la constitution (...)
  • 64 Bull Anna, Class, Control, and Classical Music, New York, Oxford University press, 2019.
  • 65 Perrenoud Marc and Bataille Pierre, Vivre de la musique ?, Lausanne, Antipodes, 2019.

23In this context, some music schools are already ahead of the game and, following the example of other performing arts such as dance and theatre, have given priority to recruiting “artists,” i.e. profiles that are already singular when they enter the school (“we want people who have something to say,” clearly stated the teaching director of a professional dance school61). Valérie Rolle and Olivier Moeschler’s study of prestigious drama schools in Switzerland62 and Adrien Thibault’s study of prestigious drama schools in France and the UK63 tie in with Anna Bull’s study of elite music academies in the UK and New Zealand.64 All these studies point to a narrowing of the social recruitment of these professional art schools around the upper middle classes, and their intellectual fringe in particular. However, the most striking recent trend may be the training of “creative” musicians not in music schools but in art schools. By following courses at the Beaux-Arts in France, or at prestigious design schools in Switzerland, the best socialised and therefore best endowed entrants to the field are developing distinctive skills and properties that bring them even closer to the accomplished figure of the singular creative artist. Unsurprisingly, when taking stock of the inherited social dispositions that characterise these entrepreneurial creative musicians, it appears that the intellectual fringe of the upper middle classes is largely over-represented, as is the case, for example, in the Musicians’ LIVES sample.65

  • 66 Observations in France and in Switzerland since 2018.

24On the other hand, in rural areas where there are no popular music schools, or in the lower middle classes or working classes where there is little understanding of the need to present oneself as a creative artist, it can be difficult to go to cultural institutions that are both geographically and symbolically distant. Often, the tradition of self-teaching is perpetuated, with little formalised transmission. Online “tutorials,” of which there were already tens of thousands before 2020 and which have become even more numerous since the Covid pandemic and lockdown, have enabled a new generation of apprentice musicians to strum their first chords and work on their first scales. With theoretical equipment that is often very approximate, but also with highly effective modes of mimetic transmission, these guitars, piano or drum “tutorials” and other “videos for learning the blues” can produce quite astonishing results, as was apparent among some of the youngest respondents, who had been socialised into music mainly through the Internet.66 Finally, music editing, composition and arrangement software has been developed for non-musicians. Once again, young people with no experience of music and no primary socialisation into the practice of music are throwing themselves into domestic production, like the teenage rockers of the 1990s in their garages, simply for the pleasure of making music, without really knowing how or why.

Conclusion

25Musical socialisation is an extremely important subject for the social science study of musical practices. This article aimed to show just how important it is to place these socialisation processes in their historical context, in order to consider the social space of existing possibilities in relation to music.

  • 67 Umney Charles, “Moral economy, intermediaries and intensified competition in the labour market for (...)

26This article has thus shown how the evolution of the social registration of popular music over the last sixty years has been decisive in understanding the modalities of musical socialisation, depending on whether “young music” seems to be the latest fashion as it was in the 1960s or, on the contrary, constitutes a transcultural, transgenerational, transclass, planetary phenomenon as is the case today, as seen in the first part. However, at the end of the analysis, it appears that there is still a bipolar musical space between the “commercial” and the “creative,” and the conditions for moving towards one pole or another are the same, since they depend on primary and secondary socialisation: inherited cultural capital allows for a more or less legitimate relationship with culture, which is also more or less legitimate, a relationship with art and music, which is more or less marked by enlightened omnivorism, but also a relationship with learning at school and with language, and a willingness to work with institutions, all of which are decisive factors in choosing a school of popular music or even a school of art, or online tutorials. As far as economic capital is concerned, it is often the sine qua non for embarking on a creative career. For those who need to earn a living from the outset, it is very difficult to invest in creation and to take risks, and they generally turn to more immediately remunerative but symbolically devalued musical activities (animation music, played by “function musicians,” to use Charles Umney’s expression67). Data from the Musicians’ LIVES survey confirms that social background has a decisive (if not mechanical) influence on careers that are more “artistic” (original compositions, concert arrangements, etc.) or “craft” (reworking a well-known repertoire, entertainment arrangements, etc.). The historicisation of musical socialisation, an exercise of which this article is a defence and illustration, seems likely to shed light on the conditions under which, for each generation, the perimeter of what is feasible, listenable and even playable has developed.

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Notes

1 We use this unsatisfactory term “popular musique” (“musiques actuelles”) by default, which is above all a category derived from cultural policy, but which we consider sufficiently familiar to make sense in the French-speaking world, where we generally speak of “jazz and popular music” as a counterpart to a “classical” area, sometimes still described as “learned” or “serious”, which would bring together early, baroque, classical and “contemporary” music.

2 Hughes Everett C., Le regard sociologique, Paris, EHESS, 1996.

3 Bourdieu Pierre, La distinction, Paris, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1979.

4 Lehmann Bernard, L’orchestre dans tous ses éclats, Paris, La Découverte, 2002 ; Perrenoud Marc and Bataille Pierre, Vivre de la musique ? Lausanne, Antipodes, 2019.

5 Hughes Everett C., Le regard sociologique.

6 Becker Howard S., Les mondes de l’art, Paris, Flammarion, 1988 [1982].

7 The verb “musicking” was popularised by Christopher Small (Musicking. The meaning of performing and listening, Hanover, Wesleyan University Press, 1998), but it had already been used in French twenty years earlier by Gilbert Rouget in one of the most important works in ethnomusicology (La musique et la transe. Esquisse d’une théorie générale des relations de la musique et de la possession, Paris, Gallimard, 1980), where the author used the opposition between the passive form “being musicked” and the active form “musicking”, as we do in this text.

8 Perrenoud Marc, “Performing for Pay: The Making and Undoing of the Music Profession”, in Rempe Martin and Nathaus Klaus (dir.), Musicking in Twentieth-Century Europe, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2021, p. 59-78.

9 De Boe Julie (dir.), L’artiste : un entrepreneur ?, Bruxelles, Les impressions nouvelles, 2011; Perrenoud Marc and Bataille Pierre, Vivre de la musique ?

10 Rempe Martin and Nathaus Klaus (dir.), Musicking in Twentieth-Century Europe.

11 Perrenoud Marc, Les musicos, Paris, La Découverte, 2007.

12 Cardon Vincent and Grégoire Mathieu, “Les syndicats du spectacle et le placement dans l’entre-deux-guerres”, Le mouvement social, no. 243, 2013, p. 19-30; Cloonan Martin and Williamson John, Players’ Work Time: A History of the British Musicians’ Union, 1893-2013, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2016; David-Guillou Angèle, “Early Musicians’ Unions in Britain, France, and the United States”, Labour History Review, vol. 74, no. 3, 2009, p. 288-304; Roberts Michael James, Tell Tchaikovski the News: Rock n’ roll, the Labor Question and the Musicians’ Union 1942-1968, Durham and London, Duke University Press, 2014; Silva Manuel Deniz, “Are Musicians ‘Ordinary Workers’? Labor Organization and the Question of ‘Artistic Value’ in the First Years of the Portuguese Musicians’ Class Association: 1909-1913”, Popular Music and Society, vol. 40, no. 5, 2017, p. 518-538.

13 Bruckholder Peter J., Groult Donald Jay and Palisca Claude V., “Part Six: the Twentieth Century and After”, in A History of Western Music, New York, Norton, p. 754-1011; Garofalo Reebee, “From Music Publishing to MP3: Music and Industry in the Twentieth Century”, American Music, vol. 17, no. 3, 1999, p. 318-354; David-Guillou Angèle, “L’organisation des musiciens dans la Grande-Bretagne du xixe siècle : vers une nouvelle définition de la profession”, Le mouvement social, no. 243, 2013, p. 9-18; Rempe Martin, “Das Vergnugen der Anderen: Unterhaltungsmusiker avant la lettre im Kaiserreich”, Moderne Stadtgeschichte, no. 2, 2019, p. 25-35.

14 Perrenoud Marc, Les musicos.

15 See Perrenoud Marc and Bataille Pierre, Vivre de la musique ? ; Bataille Pierre, Perrenoud Marc and Brändle Karen, “Échantillonner les populations rares. Retour sur une expérimentation du ‘Respondent Driven Sampling’ en milieu musical”, Sociologie, vol. 9, no. 2, 2018 (online: https://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/sociologie/3336?lang=en); Bataille Pierre and Perrenoud Marc, “‘One for the Money’? The impact of the ‘disk crisis’ on ‘ordinary musicians’ income: The case of French speaking Switzerland”, Poetics, vol. 86, 2021, DOI: https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.1016/j.poetic.2021.101552.

16 Widmann Hélène and Perrenoud Marc, Rapport d’étude sur le travail et l’emploi des musicien·ne·s à Genève (2021-2022), Genève, Fédération genevoise des musiques de création, 2022; Widmann Hélène and Perrenoud Marc, Rapport d’étude sur le travail et l’emploi des musiciennexs sur le canton de Vaud (mars à septembre 2022), Lausanne, Association des musicien·ne·s Suisses, 2022 ; Perrenoud Marc and Widmann Hélène, Rapport sur l’insertion professionnelle des diplômé·e·s du master Jazz de la Haute école de musique Vaud-Valais-Fribourg, Lausanne, HEMU, 2023 (forthcoming).

17 Chagnard Samuel, “La pratique publique comme pratique-écran en conservatoire” in Joliat François (dir.), Les identités des professeurs de musique, Sampzon, Delatour, 2017, p. 49-62; Deslyper Rémi, “Une ‘école de l’autodidaxie’ ? L’enseignement des ‘musiques actuelles’ au prisme de la forme scolaire”, Revue française de pédagogie, vol. 185, no. 4, 2013, p. 49-58; Deslyper Rémi, “Les conditions sociales d’une vocation tardive. Le cas des apprentis musicos des écoles de ‘musiques actuelles’”, Sociétés contemporaines, vol. 111, 2018, p. 97-123.

18 Perrenoud Marc and Sainsaulieu Ivan, “Pour ne pas en finir avec l’identité au travail”, SociologieS, 2018 (online: https://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/sociologies/8750). DOI: https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.4000/sociologies.8750.

19 Hennion Antoine, Comment la musique vient aux enfants, Paris, Economica, 1997; Hennion Antoine, “D’une sociologie de la médiation à une pragmatique des attachements”, SociologieS, 2013, (online: http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/sociologies/4353; DOI: https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.4000/sociologies.4353).

20 Bourdieu Pierre, La distinction, Paris, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1979; Coulangeon Philippe, Les métamorphoses de la distinction, Paris, Grasset, 2011.

21 Noiriel Gérard, Introduction à la socio-histoire, Paris, La Découverte 2008.

22 Lahire Bernard, L’esprit sociologique, Paris, La Découverte, 2005; Lahire Bernard, Dans les plis singuliers du social : individus, institutions, socialisations, Paris, La Découverte, 2013; Lahire Bernard (dir.), Enfances de classes. De l’inégalité parmi les enfants, Paris, Seuil, 2019.

23 Elias Norbert, Mozart. Sociologie d’un génie, Paris, Seuil, 1991.

24 Bourdieu Pierre, Les règles de l’art, Paris, Seuil, 1992; Bourdieu Pierre, 2013, Manet, une révolution symbolique, Paris, Seuil/Raisons d’agir.

25 Sofio Séverine, Artistes femmes. La parenthèse enchantée, xviiie-xixe siècles, Paris, CNRS Éditions, 2016.

26 Raboud Pierre, “L’hiver des musiques jeunes : la Suisse avant la pop (1960-1983)”, Riom Loïc and Perrenoud Marc (dir.), La musique en Suisse sous le regard des sciences sociales, Genève, Sociograph, 2018, p. 47-62.

27 Roueff Olivier, Jazz. Les échelles du plaisir, Paris, La Dispute, 2013; Steulet Christian, “Changements de plateaux : la scène musicale populaire en Suisse, des Nuits de jazz à Superpop Montreux”, in Riom Loïc and Perrenoud Marc (dir.), La musique en Suisse sous le regard des sciences sociales, Genève, Sociograph, p. 27-46.

28 As Diana Vreeland, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Magazine, put it in 1965, and it has been widely used ever since.

29 Perrenoud Marc, Les musicos.

30 Ibid.

31 Coulangeon Philippe, Les métamorphoses de la distinction.

32 Bourdieu Pierre, Sur l’État, Paris, Seuil, 2012.

33 Urfalino Philippe, L’invention de la politique culturelle, Paris, Fayard, 2011; Dubois Vincent, La politique culturelle, Paris, Belin, 1999.

34 Boltanski Luc and Chiapello Eve, Le nouvel esprit du capitalisme, Paris, Gallimard-Seuil, 1999.

35 Peterson Richard A., “A process model of the folk, pop, and fine art phases of jazz”, Nanry Charles (dir.), American music: From Storyville to Woodstock, New Brunswick (NJ), Trans-Action Books and E.P. Dutton, 1972, p. 135-151.

36 Donnat Olivier, Les pratiques culturelles des Français à l’ère du numérique, enquête 2008, Paris, La Découverte, 2009.

37 Donnat Olivier, Les pratiques culturelles des français à l’ère du numérique; Peterson Richard and Kern Roger, “Changing Highbrow Taste: From Snob to Omnivore”, American Sociological Review, vol. 61, no. 5, 1996, p. 900-907.

38 Bourdieu Pierre, La distinction.

39 Coulangeon Philippe and Duval Julien (dir.), Trente ans après La Distinction de Pierre Bourdieu, Paris, La Découverte, 2013.

40 Pecqueux Anthony and Roueff Olivier (dir.), Écologie sociale de l’oreille. Enquêtes sur l’expérience musicale, Paris, Éditions de l’EHESS, 2009.

41 Peterson Richard and Kern Roger, “Changing Highbrow Taste: From Snob to Omnivore”.

42 Coulangeon Philippe, Les métamorphoses de la distinction; Bataille Pierre and Perrenoud Marc, “From musical genre to professional style: a Bourdieusian perspective on musicians at work”, colloque Bourdieu, Work and Inequalities, Paris, december, 2022.

43 Charles Frédéric and Segré Gabriel, Sociologie des pratiques musicales des collégiens et lycéens à l’ère numérique, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2016.

44 Nault Jean-François, Baumann Shyon, Childress Clayton and Rawlings Craig M., “The social positions of taste between and within music genres: From omnivore to snob”, European Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 24, no. 3, 2021, p. 717-740.

45 Pariser Eli, The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You, London, Penguin Press, 2011.

46 Deslyper Rémi, “Une ‘école de l’autodidaxie’ ? L’enseignement des ‘musiques actuelles’ au prisme de la forme scolaire”, Revue française de pédagogie, vol. 185, no. 4, 2013, p. 49-58; Deslyper Rémi, “Les conditions sociales d’une vocation tardive. Le cas des apprentis musicos des écoles de ‘musiques actuelles’”, Sociétés contemporaines, vol. 111, 2018, p. 97-123; Deslyper Rémi, Les élèves des écoles de musiques actuelles”, Villeneuve-d’Ascq, Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2018.

47 Perrenoud Marc, Les musicos.

48 Becker Howard, Outsiders. Studies in the sociology of deviance, New York, The Free Press of Glencoe, 1963.

49 Ibid.

50 Touché Marc, Guitares, guitaristes et bassistes électriques, catalogue d’exposition, Montluçon, Musées de Montluçon, 1998.

51 Deslyper Rémi, “Une ‘école de l’autodidaxie’ ?”.

52 Touché Marc, Guitares, guitaristes et bassistes électriques.

53 Perrenoud Marc, Les musicos.

54 Séca Jean-Marie, Les musiciens underground, Paris, PUF, 2001.

55 Buscatto Marie, Femmes du jazz, Paris, CNRS, 2009; Hatzipetrou-Andronikou Reguina, “Déjouer les stéréotypes de genre pour jouer d’un instrument. Le cas des paradosiaka en Grèce”, Sociologie de l’Art, no. 2, 2011, p. 59-73; Ravet Hyacinthe, Musiciennes, enquête sur les femmes et la musique, Paris, Autrement, 2011.

56 Deslyper Rémi, Les élèves des écoles de “musiques actuelles”; Perrenoud Marc and Widmann Hélène, Rapport sur l’insertion professionnelle des diplômé·e·s du master Jazz de la Haute école de musique Vaud-Valais-Fribourg.

57 Hughes Everett C., Le regard sociologique.

58 Perrenoud Marc and Bataille Pierre, Vivre de la musique ?

59 Mauger Gérard, “Talents : de Gérard Depardieu à Bernard Arnault”, Savoir/Agir, vol. 24, no. 2, 2013, p. 103-106.

60 Mauger Gérard, ibid.

61 David, 32 years old, Suisse romande, april 2020 (survey “Consacrer les talents”).

62 Rolle Valérie, Moeschler Olivier, De l’école à la scène. Entrer dans le métier de comédien·ne, Lausanne, Antipodes, 2014.

63 Thibault Adrien, “Être ou ne pas être : la genèse de la consécration théâtrale ou la constitution primitive du talent”, Sociologie et sociétés, vol. 47, no. 2, 2015, p. 87-111.

64 Bull Anna, Class, Control, and Classical Music, New York, Oxford University press, 2019.

65 Perrenoud Marc and Bataille Pierre, Vivre de la musique ?, Lausanne, Antipodes, 2019.

66 Observations in France and in Switzerland since 2018.

67 Umney Charles, “Moral economy, intermediaries and intensified competition in the labour market for function musicians”, Work, Employment, and Society, vol. 31, no. 5, 2017, p. 834-850.

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Marc Perrenoud, « Historicising the question of socialisation into “popular music” »Transposition [En ligne], 11 | 2023, mis en ligne le 12 décembre 2023, consulté le 21 juin 2024. URL : http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/transposition/8113 ; DOI : https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.4000/transposition.8113

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Marc Perrenoud

Marc Perrenoud is a lecturer and researcher in the social sciences at the University of Lausanne. A former professional musician, he has published numerous articles on the sociology and anthropology of work and culture, as well as a number of books, including Les musicos, enquête sur des musiciens ordinaires (La Découverte, 2007) and Vivre de la musique? (Antipodes, 2019, with Pierre Bataille).

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