1. bookVolume 6 (2020): Issue 1 (June 2020)
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2450-7563
First Published
16 Apr 2015
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
access type Open Access

Lowbrows as Rebels: Under What Circumstances a “Low” Musical Genre Can Change its Cultural Value? The Case of Disco Polo and Populism in Poland

Published Online: 27 Jan 2021
Volume & Issue: Volume 6 (2020) - Issue 1 (June 2020)
Page range: 106 - 120
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2450-7563
First Published
16 Apr 2015
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

The sociology of culture and the sociology of valuation and evaluation are closely related (Lamont 2012). In both cases, social hierarchies are the primary, fundamental focal point. Usually, sociologists of culture show what the necessary conditions for building social boundaries in a given historical context are (see e.g. Bourdieu, 1984; Ang, 1985; Ikegami, 2005). The main aim of this paper, however, is to present how lowbrow aesthetics can resist fierce social critique and how social stigma related to “low” tastes can be reversed. I focus on “disco polo” – a genre of simple dance music that became popular in the early 1990s, almost disappeared in 2010s, and recently came back all of the sudden. Disco polo (henceforth: DP) formed an entire aesthetics style, comprising not only music and a kitschy (thus stigmatized and ridiculed) style of videos, but also androcentric values behind the lyrics, a specific way of dressing – with prominent status signifiers such as golden chains or sport cars. Although the empirical material comes from Poland, the core issue is far more generally applicable: the rehabilitation of the lowermost (from the point of view of Bourdieusian dominant classes) kitschy tastes (Kulka 1996; Ward 1996), which is very different from camp sensibility (Sontag 2018). How can lowbrow consumers resist symbolic oppression and derive pleasure from culturally sanctioned “shameful” objects? Focusing on the historical example of this typically Polish music genre, I will show under what circumstances the open rejection of legitimate tastes and admiration of low tastes is possible.

Keywords

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