The article begins by outlining a dominant conception of these relations in sociologically informed analysis of music, which sees music primarily as a positive resource for active self-making. My argument is that this conception rests on a problematic notion of the self and also on an overly optimistic understanding of music, which implicitly sees music as highly independent of negative social and historical processes. I then attempt to construct a) a more adequately critical conception of personal identity in modern societies; and b) a more balanced appraisal of music-society relations. I suggest two ways in which relations between self, music and society may not always be quite so positive or as healthy as the dominant conception suggests: 1) Music is now bound up with the incorporation of authenticity and creativity into capitalism, and with intensified consumption habits. 2) Emotional self-realisation through music is now linked to status competition. Interviews are analysed
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