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In defense of textual analysis: Resisting methodological hegemony in media and cultural studies

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 07:34 authored by Phillipov, M
Media and cultural studies are currently experiencing a renewed and intensified engagement with sociology and sociological methods, with studies of popular music especially affected by attempts to make media and cultural research "more sociological." This paper explores recent methodological debates in media and cultural studies by critiquing the ‘‘ethnographic turn’’ in popular music studies, as well as the growing antipathy toward textual analysis methods. It argues that while sociological popular music studies may rhetorically privilege "real" experience over abstract textualism, its methods are often limited to the dimensions of experience that can be readily observed and verbalized, or resort to the kind of abstract theorizing its practitioners claim to reject. Using examples from heavy and extreme metal music, this paper argues that while all research methods are inevitably partial, textual analysis can offer creative ways to articulate experiences that would otherwise be inaccessible to empirical research methods, and that the use of text-based approaches can improve, rather than weaken, our understanding of popular media and culture.


Publication title

Critical Studies in Media Communication








School of Humanities


Routledge Taylor & Francis Ltd

Place of publication

4 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, England, Oxfordshire, Ox14 4Rn

Rights statement

Copyright 2012 National Communication Association

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

The media

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