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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The music industry and Canadian national identity Duffett, Mark


The links between national identity and the music industry in Canada are too diverse to be understood with any simplistic model of the nation. In early twentieth century Italy Ahtonio Gramsci examined the consumption of serialized stories written by foreigners. He developed a view of popular culture which focussed upon the role of the State in maintaining national unity. Since the federal State in Canada has intervened in the country's music business in recent years, Gramsci's schema provides us with a useful framework for that case. Moreover, his work avoids an orchestrated view of the nation or a narrow specification of the contents of culture. It allows us to take a view that Canadian culture is whatever Canadian's choose to write. Due to its inductive beginnings and theoretical shortcomings, the schema is not applied rigidly to music made by Canadians. Rather it has been kept on the sidelines to explore representations of Canadian music, the broadcasting, sound recording and concert promotion industries, and finally the future of music made in Canada. Gramsci's schema is one way to distinguish between the cause and uses of the nation in particular arguments. His ideas also explain why popular culture matters, without specifying its content or giving it artificial coherence. A framework is provided which admits that, in a society based upon exchange, the nation is fully implicated within a wider social fabric, so frequently cultural differences cannot be simplistically aligned with national borders. It allows us to reject essentialist nationalism and therefore the possibility of using the nation as a reason to suggest Canadian musicians are falling short, by not doing something different from their foreign counterparts. In its place the schema enables us to celebrate Canadian artists for what they have done in contributing to a wider sphere, and allows us to praise environments in which Canadian talent can be recognized and allowed to grow, whatever forms it takes.

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