Institutional Economics and the Formation of Preferences
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Institutional Economics and the Formation of Preferences

The Advent of Pop Music

Wilfred Dolfsma

The formation of preferences is an elusive subject that many social scientists, and especially economists, have tended to avoid. In this original new book, Wilfred Dolfsma combines institutional economics with insights from the other social sciences to analyse the way in which preferences are formed in a social context.
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Chapter 5: Consuming Pop Music / Constructing a Life World

Wilfred Dolfsma


5. Consuming pop music/constructing a life world Look around and choose your own ground Pink Floyd Why did so many people in the late 1950s and early 1960s start to consume pop music? Why did they begin to listen to programmes on the radio where pop music was played? What explains why broadcasters, record companies and other players in the music industry in many countries had to make dramatic changes in response to changing consumption patterns? The institutional changes on what can be called the production side have been studied to a considerable extent. Increasingly, the argument in such studies was that institutional changes were influenced by responses to them from the audience, from consumers. A systematic study of the consumption of pop music in this crucial era of its ‘conquest’ of most Western countries has not yet been undertaken. All the attention in the research has focused on the production aspects of music and the music industry (Berland 1990; Burnett 1993; Chapman 1992; Gillett 1970 [1996]; Negus 1993, 1996; Peterson 1990; Vogel 1998). Instead, motives for consumption have been invoked, based on the method of introspection, for pop music’s consumers (Adorno 1941; Ballantine 1984; Righart 1995), a strictly individualistic psychological approach is taken (Holbrook and Schindler 1989), or a (latent) demand for this music is assumed (Peterson 1990). Here, I provide such an integrated analysis, focusing on the situation in the Netherlands. Frith (1996) argues that one should ask the people involved to answer the question of why people...

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