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Musical Listening And Boundary-Work

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Chapter Summary

Acts of listening to music are synonymous with the deployment of social boundaries around the individual that afford an intimate and enjoyable connection with music. Technologies like mp3 players and other portable music devices, rather than being novel acts of separation between listeners and others, only augment the pre-existing social boundaries implicit in acts of musical listening. This chapter argues this by first examining the idea of the social boundary. It then considers two case studies of musical listening. The first concerns the transformation of listening in opera and concert halls in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The second considers the process of listening in the contemporary home. Framing is explicitly linked with boundary-work because, through framing, individuals insert boundaries. The chapter examines that boundary-work as a type of framing activity is plainly illustrated when individuals segment social activities, locations and behaviours into public and private categories.

Keywords: musical listening; private social life; public social life; social boundaries



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