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 7: Conclusion: Forming Preferences, Valuing Pop Music

Wilfred Dolfsma


When the music is over . . . Turn out the lights The Doors The value of pop music is socially constructed, even though many of its fans and social scientists – economists in particular – believe pop’s value to be an entirely subjective matter. I have studied a particular period of time in which the valuation of music by people changed dramatically. As pop music became prominent, overtaking Big Band and Crooner music, consumption patterns, the music industry and society in generally were undergoing tectonic, structural changes. To explain the advent of pop music in the late 1950s and early 1960s in the Netherlands, as in other developed countries in the West, one needs to study its social context in terms of the institutional changes it instigated or even imposed. The interplay of consumers and producers of pop music – together constituting pop music’s system of provision – led to institutional changes. As it turns out, both providers of pop music such as people making radio programmes and music magazines, and consumers of pop music were equally surprised by the pace of the institutional changes that were taking place. Not only was the pace surprising, but people were in the dark about the direction in which the changes would take them. The period of the late 1950s and early 1960s was an exciting time for everybody involved with pop music. It was therefore a time full of uncertainty and ambiguities as well. Changes taking place in a particular period of time are not only exciting for...

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