8 Pages


Dick Hebdige in his introduction to the seminal Subculture: The Meaning of Style discusses Jean Genet’s book The Thief’s Journal and the semiotic symbolism of a tube of Vaseline. This object betrayed Genet’s subversive life to the police offi cers who had confi scated it from him. They knew the signifi cance of its ownership for a man like Genet (Hebdige, 1979, pp. 1-4). I too have read Genet’s Thief’s Journal and its signifi cance, I think, is more to do with the world or milieu that Genet is a part of. In his travels across Europe, Genet taps into and displays knowledge of a particular milieu that is prepared to push the boundaries, explore a type of sexuality, and challenge the morals of the time. Hebdige and the school of cultural studies in Birmingham that he was a part of (Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, CCCS) built up a grand tradition of analysis and research that dealt with youth subcultures and their place within a fairly structured, class divided social structure. The analysis evoked a variety of Marxist and postMarxist analysis from the CCCS writers and researchers. In this book the theory I develop of milieu cultures provides an analysis that still asserts that class, location, knowledge, and economics are important but re-positions them in a theoretical matrix that looks more closely at the complexity of modern life within worlds of popular music and places them in a matrix that understands the ability of these elements to be sometimes incredibly signifi cant and sometimes to be less than important. Using a combination of phenomenological frameworks, Bourdieusian concepts, and dialectical or network relationships, I try to build up an understanding that will illuminate this complexity in a way that can direct researchers and re-conceptualise theory in a direction that moves towards the type of Refl exive Sociology that Bourdieu and Wacquant were suggesting in their An Invitation to Refl exive Sociology (1992). This work stresses relations and process rather than structure and semiotics. This work also stresses the importance of embedded research that looks in great detail at different musical worlds and how they operate.