Dissertation Abstracts

The unstable lightness of rock. Genesis, dynamics and consolidation of alternative rock in Portugal (1980-2010)

Author: Guerra, Paula , mariadeguerra@gmail.com
Department: Sociology - Faculty of Arts
University: University of Porto, Portugal
Supervisor: Augusto Santos Silva
Year of completion: 2011
Language of dissertation: Portuguese

Keywords: cultural production , pop rock , cultural consumption , identities
Areas of Research: Arts , Youth , Communication, Knowledge and Culture


If we see pop rock as a fundamental component of popular music, it is possible to take its manifestations, everyday life experiences, sociabilities and productions as determinant to the comprehension and explanation of the social structure in which they occur and of the identities of those who produce and reproduce it. Moreover, if sociology isn’t interested by essences, but for processes, it seems to us that the pop rock field, though recent, will be an essential matrix to the analysis of the social representations and collective memory. It is in this axiom that we place the structuring aims of the investigation which originated this Dissertation. Here we also defend the drawing of our base object, the approach of rock as a social practice of societal production and reproduction in the extent of contemporary society, amongst the Portuguese society between 1980 and 2010. The analytic purpose stands in its more alternative element (consumption, media coverage and production), or, in a more faithful way to the Portuguese reality, “vanguardists”, considering it as a central element to the structuring and restructuring of the popular urban cultures. We consider the world of rock in its extensiveness, with its different agents, practices, contexts, log-ics of social production and reproduction, in an issue close to the «worlds of art» as it is developed by Becker (1988) or Crane (1992), complemented by a sociology of media coverage as defended by Hennion (1993), backed by Bourdieu’s field theory (1992; 1996, 2004). Passing through history and empiricism, we inherited extensive information and reflection which allowed us to go deeper in the explanation and comprehension of the structuring mode of the alternative rock subfield in Portugal. The analysis of the object was done using a coherent and complex device related to the social fields theory as long range theory, supported by medium range theoretical support emanated from contributive perspectives of the notion of “scene” and the so called cultural production theory. Therefore, the drawing foundation molds of the alternative rock subfield in Portugal included a tripartite view about the production, disclosure and consumption/fruition of musical manifestations related to pop rock, with emphasis on the representational view of alternative rock. One must refer that our conceptual and terminological definition of subfield is due to the limitations of its range in terms of extensiveness, in time and space, and its relation of dependence and correlation still very evident within the Portuguese pop rock music field in general. It is also a subfield because it is given importance to a more segmented and plural analysis of the manifestations of the massive popular culture presently, considering the contemporary cultural contingencies, pluralities and instabilities.