SOC 131


Music and Culture

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Each field research project will be evaluated/graded according to the following criteria: 1) data collection (25%), 2) data analysis (25%), 3) use of supplementary materials (25%), and 4) presentation of findings (25%). Your group will be required to fill out a grade sheet (one per group) which explicitly states what you have done for each phase of the project.


Analyze five music videos and the lyrics from five songs which could be classified as 'gangsta rap.' What images are being projected in the videos? How is violence portrayed? How are men and women represented in the videos and music? What do these representations say about what it means to be masculine or feminine? Do these images influence how men and women think about themselves and each other? What role does race play in the imagery? What effect does this music have on youth culture? Who are the major decision-makers in the industry and how do they shape the music? This project is a detailed content analysis of music videos and rap lyrics and requires some background research into the organization of the music industry.



This project requires a content analysis of music and music videos. You will need to first, formulate a series of categories which you will use to conceptually explore the select group of songs and videos you have gathered as data. These categories should be guided by the questions laid out above and by your theoretical orientation. Once you have laid out the categories, you will need to read your data with a meticulous eye to pull out material which speaks to your categorizations. This process is called ‘coding' the data (the data being your chosen media). If you are working in a group, you will want to code the data separately, then get back together to discuss how you each coded the data - what are the similarities and differences between yourself and your colleagues? If you are working alone you will need to pass through the data (at least) three separate times to ensure that you are not missing any particularities. What does your coding schema allow you to say about the cultural representations in music videos? How can you situate these understandings within the larger framework of our discussion on media as a social institution? You may find your information on the organization of the music industry in any way that you feel necessary. You may want to search for the information on the Internet, you may look in various business references, you may want to call the manager of a record store, ect.



You must carefully review the chapter in the textbook on the media. You may have to read ahead to do this. You will also want to do a search in the library to find any relevant sociological studies which focus on the music and culture. You may also want to look at the following book which has several provocative chapters about rap music and culture.


Hooks, bell ( 1992). Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston: South End Press.

Hooks, bell (1996). Outlaw Culture. New York: Routledge.



You may present your findings in any way that you deem appropriate. You may want to create tables which describe the occurances of certain themes. You may want to play snippets of your music or videos (within reason) to illustrate your main ideas. You may want to engage the class in some sort of activity. It is up to you, or your group, however you will want to come up with some sort of clever way to articulate your findings that maintains the interest of the class. You will have a better idea of how to present your findings once you have completed the data analysis. You should plan to limit your presentation to 20-30 minutes.