Songs that resonate

The uses of popular music nostalgia

Authored by: Arno van der Hoeven

The Routledge Companion to Popular Music History and Heritage

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138237636
eBook ISBN: 9781315299310
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the phenomenon of popular music nostalgia. In the cultural and heritage industries, nostalgia is widely used to make an affective connection to music consumers. Popular music nostalgia can be defined as a longing for the past that is evoked through popular music’s production and consumption or representations of its history and heritage. This chapter theorises popular music nostalgia as a socially constructed phenomenon in order to understand its relevance to cultural industries and music audiences. To do so, it discusses the central themes that emerge from the growing body of research on popular music nostalgia. Echoing the more complex conceptualisations of nostalgia that have emerged over the years, both the positive and negative aspects of popular music nostalgia are considered. The chapter thus examines how nostalgic narratives are mobilised and interpreted by different actors such as music audiences and cultural industry workers. In so doing, it discusses studies from a diverse range of geographical settings. The sociological approach of this chapter demonstrates how popular music nostalgia is vital in forming a sense of belonging and identity.

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