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This woman's work: Kate Bush, female fans and practices of distinction

By Laura Vroomen


This thesis proposes a broader understanding of the nature of women’s investments in popular music. Through a case-study of a group of mostly mature, middle class, white and heterosexual female fans for the British performer Kate Bush (1958- ) this thesis asks questions about the way in which gender, age, class, race/ethnicity and sexuality circulate within the field of popular music fandom, a field which has traditionally privileged masculinity and youth.\ud \ud Studies of popular music consumption have tended to emphasise the notion of resistance to dominant culture, often by young, working class men. This has obscured the investments more mature and middle class women might have in popular music. This thesis shows that these investments are, instead of wholly conservative as is usually implied, both resistant and reactionary. In a similar way, these investments do not necessarily lead to powerful positions for the women (for instance, in a domestic context), but they do empower them to deal with the demands of work and relationships.\ud \ud The women’s claims to distinction as serious music lovers are often made at the expense of other fans, especially young girls, and as such reinforce existing notions of the undiscriminating and ‘eroticised’ female fan. At the same time, however, their claims to distinction on account of their ‘feminine cultural capital’, enabled by Kate Bush’s blend of a ‘masculine’ musical virtuosity and a ‘feminine’ address, partly challenges the male domination of the popular music field. Furthermore, the women’s articulation of popular music and a mature sensibility challenges the medium’s youth ethos and offers an understanding of the way in which popular music returns its value for listeners through the long term

Topics: ML
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:3033

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