Sociology of music
- John Shepherd
The study of the role of music within society, its dynamic as a mode of human communication and its position within established social structures. Initially the discipline concerned itself largely with Western art music, but more recently greater attention has been paid to popular music of all forms and the role of music within mass culture.
Sociology has roots going back in Europe to at least the 18th century. The word, a combination of the Latin societas and the Greek logos, was first used by Auguste Comte (1789–1857). Sociology was thus conceived as the science of the history and constitution of human societies. In its early stages, it drew in its thinking from the natural sciences: societies, like biological organisms, were seen as systems of related elements in which the whole was greater than the sum of the parts, and the functioning of the parts could be understood only in terms of their contribution to the whole. Thus arose a fundamental and defining characteristic of sociology: the priority of society over the individual. This was in contrast to much previous thinking, in which the social order had been conceived as the consequence of the qualities of individuals and their acts. The sociology of Emile Durkheim (...