‘Speaking of Value?’ Forthcoming Conference Paper Abstract


I am delighted to announce that I have another conference paper scheduled for next year, this time to be presented at the ‘Pop-Life:  The Value of Popular Music in the Twenty First Century’ conference to be held at The University of Northampton, 6th and 7th June 2014.

 This paper will examine the language by which notions of value are attributed to popular music within the English quality news press of the twenty first century.  Drawing upon extensive critical discourse analysis of a sample of music writing, taken from quality national newspapers across the period 2000 to 2012, the paper examines the role of the national press in shaping and circulating that terminology which provides the basis for commonly used measurements of popular music’s real or imaginary value and use in people’s everyday lives.

By examining reviews of recorded and live popular music, and by taking into account both the objective observations and subjective commentary of their critic authors, the paper unpicks the nature of various derivations of value; for example, value to audiences (whether on an intimate level in relation to individual listeners or to the shared experience of fan collectives), value to the maintenance of a music industry and associated media (as reciprocal and self-fuelling entities) or value to the preservation of artistic tradition (though genre lineages and reference to the musical canon).

Hesmondhalgh has recently argued that music’s value is inherently linked to notions of “commonality, community and solidarity” (2013: 84) and it is with reference to these concepts, and his associated model for considering forms of “public and publicness” (2013: 86) that the discourse analysis results are discussed.  Ultimately, the paper will consider the extent to which music writing, and particularly that which enjoys a privileged position within the English quality news press, might both reinforce existing ideas, and forge new frameworks, in relation to the value of popular music in its many forms.


Published by Dr Jennifer Skellington

In 2010 I completed my PhD thesis entitled ‘Transforming Music Criticism? An examination of changes in music journalism in the English broadsheet press from 1981 to 1991’, at Oxford Brookes University. My research entailed face to face interviews with fourteen long-standing music journalists representing all music genres from the English quality press, the construction of a database cataloguing and analysing all music-related content from a sample of quality newspapers from the period 1981 to 1991 and the detailed discourse analysis of a sample of live music reviews. My key area of expertise is music criticism and music journalism, particularly relating to popular music (including rock, pop, jazz, world music), however my broader teaching and research specialisms cover a wide range of popular music related topics, particularly those associated with popular music and identity (race, gender, nationality, subcultures) and popular music and film. Since completing my PhD I have held associate lecturing posts at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford University, Solent University, Brunel University, the University of Bristol, Bucks New University, the University of Northampton and the University of Worcester.

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