Researching Youth Culture and Popular Music: A Methodological Critique
In this article I argue the need for critical evaluation of qualitative research methodology in sociological studies of the relationship between youth culture and popular music. As the article illustrates, there is currently an absence of critical debate concerning methodological issues in this field of sociological research. In the first part of the article I begin to account for this absence by illustrating how early research on youth and music rejected the need for empirical research, relying instead on theories and concepts drawn from cultural Marxism. The second part of the article illustrates how the legacy of this early body of work in youth and music research manifests itself in current research which, although empirically grounded, is characterized by an almost total lack of engagement with methodological issues such as negotiating access to the field, management of field relations and ethical codes. Similarly problematic is the uncritical acceptance on the part of some researchers of their insider knowledge of particular youth musics and scenes as a means of gathering empirical data. In the final part of the article I focus on the issue of insider knowledge and the need for critical evaluation of its use as a methodological tool in field-based youth and music research.
British Journal of Sociology