Empowerment in postmillenial rap and metal music listening

Gamble, Steven (2018) Empowerment in postmillenial rap and metal music listening. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis investigates how postmillennial rap and metal music can empower listeners. It presents a theoretical model of empowerment based in listening experience and provides music analysis of a diverse body of rap and metal tracks. I begin by formulating a theoretical framework for individual listening experience that combines perspectives from embodied cognition (Lakoff and Johnson 1980, 1999) and the ecological theory of perception (Gibson 1986; Clarke 2005). The account of empowerment studies by the field of community psychology (Zimmerman and Rappaport 1988; Travis 2016), approach/inhibition theory (Keltner et al. 2003), the personal sense of power (Galinsky et al. 2003), and processes of mentalising and mirroring (Bombari et al. 2013). I establish a method of popular music analysis based upon Moore's (2012) interrogative hermeneutics, including the theory of the personic environment, concepts of music style and style competence, and scene and music community (Kahn-Harris 2007). A literature review is provided for rap, metal, and their stylistic combinations, with a particular focus on research concerning listening, analysis, and empowerment. I undertake analysis of thirty-seven rap and metal tracks, discussing the ways that they may afford empowering experiences for listeners. Finally, I compare and contrast tendencies of rap and metal's potential to empower individuals. The thesis concluded with consideration of the significance of these findings and avenues for further research.

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