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Writing about listening: alternative discourses in rock journalism

Atton, Chris


Chris Atton


‘Alternative’ publications challenge the conventional discourses of rock journalism. In particular, the dominant discourses of authenticity, masculinity and mythology might be countered by publications that emphasise historical and (sub)cultural framing, and that present radicalised ‘spaces of listening.’ Using Bourdieu’s field theory to identify autonomous and semi-autonomous sites for rock criticism, the paper compares how a fanzine (the Sound Projector) and what Frith has termed an ideological magazine (the Wire) construct their reviews. The findings suggest that, whilst there is no evidence for an absolute break with the dominant conventions of reviewing, there is a remarkable polyglottism in alternative music reviewing. The paper emphasises differing cultural and social practices in the multiple ways the publications write about music, and argues for the value of such polyglottism.


Atton, C. (2009). Writing about listening: alternative discourses in rock journalism. Popular Music, 28, 53-67.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2009
Deposit Date Feb 12, 2009
Publicly Available Date Dec 31, 2009
Print ISSN 0261-1430
Electronic ISSN 1474-0095
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Pages 53-67
Keywords Rock music; Alternative publications; Historical review technque; Sub-cultural review technique; Cultural influences; Sociological influences; Linguistic styles;
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