Youth and Cultural Change

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THE COLLEGE MUSIC SOCIETY, as part of its continuing effort to support all areas of music in higher education, has been a member of the International Society for Music Education for several years. As such, it joins a distinguished group of societies, institutions, and professional musicians around the world. To the United States musician, the term "music education" has come to mean primarily music teaching at the pre-collegiate level or the training of teachers for this level. Internationally, however, this term more often designates the greater concerns for music pedagogy at all levels.

The International Society for Music Education holds bi-annual conferences throughout the world. This past July the XII Conference was held in Montreux, Switzerland. Papers, discussions, demonstrations, and concerts from around the world were shared by almost one thousand delegates from forty-five countries.

As a continuing service to the members of the College Music Society, SYMPOSIUM will carry information and features derived from participation in ISME. The following article by Professor Kurt Blaukopf is a report on work in the newly developing field of socio-musicology. Professor Blaukopf is a member of the Board of Directors of ISME and UNESCO in addition to his responsibilities as Director of the Institute of Music Sociology in Vienna.

ROBERT J. WERNER
University of Arizona

In 1970, an international research project was launched, dealing with the changing patterns of young people's musical behavior. The contributions from eighteen countries of Europe and North America were compiled and published in English.1 This publication was soon followed by a summary report in German,2 which was supplemented by the publication of further studies drawn up in the Federal German Republic, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union.3

All the studies started out from the music-educational issues pertaining primarily to the role played by out-of-school experiences relative to institutionalized learning. Soon it turned out that questions of musical behavior could not be isolated from the overall cultural behavior and its transformation. Beyond that, it became obvious from the information compiled on an international level, that research covering a limited geographical area will only yield useful results if it goes along with cross-cultural studies. Such comparative studies bring out in clear relief national peculiarities, provide the key to understanding the cultural changes in countries with different socio-economic structures and also indicate in what way the degree of economic development affects cultural behavior patterns.

In logical consequence the research project was carried on to a second stage and was expanded geographically to the so-called developing countries. A detailed interim report on this second stage is now ready in English.4 This report, which contains papers and contributions from European and Asian countries, forms the basis of the following remarks.

The exchange of opinions revealed that the unconsidered transfer of research methods from one cultural region to another constitutes a source of errors and thus a danger to research. From almost all the contributions it may be inferred that traditional notions of the interaction between cultural and economic changes are in need of adjustment and that the role of culture is being gradually viewed in a different light. According to this new conception, patterns of cultural behavior are not merely the consequence of socio-economic developments but have themselves a bearing upon the direction and pace of such developments.

First signs of an intellectual reorientation along these lines can already be observed at the national level, especially in Europe. Just one case in point: the Austrian Federal Minister of Education and the Arts took the occasion of a discussion on the principles of cultural policy, conducted in October 1974, to throw light on the relationship between economy and culture. Among others it was stated:

Are 'culture' and economy really as far apart as one is trying to make us believe? If, in the final instance, 'culture' implies the tasks to provide instruction, education and information, it belongs—like all matters of a cognitive, scientific, didactic nature—to the 'foundations' of social life, to the 'productive forces.' But since the communication of 'culture' may take different forms, e.g., communication in the truly humanitarian spirit or communication of reactionary content in an elitist, hence non-humanitarian spirit, and as its development is influenced or even determined by prevailing convictions, it becomes an ideological phenomenon and as such it belongs also to the 'superstructure.'

It is of paramount importance to realize this conceptually ambivalent character of our culture.5

If culture is to be understood as a productive force of development, a certain amount of rethinking will be necessary in the developed industrial countries, because traditional thinking, notably in Europe, has for a long time assigned culture and particularly art to a "free zone" detached from all economic pressures. Things are different in the developing countries, where it is more openly manifest that culture is a dimension of social life and that cultural behavior is social behavior. This is an aspect which serves also as a methodological corroboration of the thought underlying some sociological investigations conducted in the industrial countries; it is the thought that new (as well as older) cultural behavior patterns can only be understood against the background of the overall social context. In the final instance this realization has also a bearing on planned-economy concepts. In an extensive study on the leisure-time behavior in the Soviet society, the authors Leonid A. Gordon and Eduard V. Klopov6 emphasize the significance of such research, because along with economic and technological planning it brings to the fore an aspect that is referred to as "social planning." The findings derived from investigations into the time budget within the leisure-time framework could, according to the authors, be used as the basis for the social planning which in the Soviet Union is now in its initial stages. Social planning of this type would not only mean to "improve every-day life" but also to advance culture and to provide the conditions for the "all-round development of the personality."

As yet, this act of rethinking in the field of cultural research has remained unmatched at the international political level. As an example we cite the Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order adopted by the Sixth Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly. In a report to the 18th General Conference of UNESCO, the Director-General pointed to this very example, when he said:

The main omission in the Declaration pertains to the socio-cultural dimension of development. This is understandable. . . . However . . . it is necessary none the less to recall the essential importance of socio-cultural factors in the pattern and ultimate purposes of development and also in the motives underlying the attitudes of nations towards one another.7

These very motives which underlie the attitudes of nations to one another are not only of importance for a new international economic order, but are of special significance also for the cultural behavior of the youth, as will be demonstrated in the course of this paper.

 

International lines of cultural communication

Colonialism engendered very specific lines of cultural communication, which provided for closer contacts with the centers of the colonial powers than with neighboring countries. As yet, the process of decolonialization has failed to put an end to this convergence of communication lines in a few centers, although decisive initial steps have already been taken. With respect to musical culture it has been deplored more than once that countries of the Third World do have cultural links with Europe and North America, whereas truly multilateral cultural relations are very poorly developed.8

Although the preconditions for such truly multilateral relations are still lacking in the field of technology and of cultural policy, the cultural manifestations of the youth in developed as well as in developing countries have initiated a new approach. A principal factor facilitating this process was doubtless the availability and mobility which musical performances gained through the technical media (radio, record, tape, etc.). Still, one should not underestimate the spirit in which young people in many countries are working at such living contacts. This spirit is nourished from several sources: in various industrial countries young people express their criticism of the established culture they are confronted with partly through their curiosity about the manifestations in developing countries; in other countries there prevails an interest kindled by political freedom movements, i.e., the manifestation of solidarity through cultural behavior. Whatever the motives, there is no denying that a partly spontaneous, partly controlled movement away from the colonial or post-colonial lines of communication is gaining ground. In some instances new lines of musical communication have been established between India and other Asian countries or between youth programs on Japanese radio and musical manifestations in Asian developing countries. These examples indicate that wherever technology leaves scope for autonomous initiatives there is the will to establish new, multilateral cultural relations and that this is a movement primarily carried by the youth, or most enthusiastically welcomed by the youth wherever the mass media allow for it.

It is necessary to point to this relatively new trend, because it shows the still deeply rooted dominance of a few centers over extraneous cultures in its proper perspective. This is a situation which still prevails in the domain of commercial television, as has been proved in a recent study.9 Yet, one can observe the emergence of spontaneous and controlled counter-movements. The investigations so far conducted have yielded a most important finding, namely that the new cultural behavior of the youth bears the marked imprint of an international outlook which is not merely rhetorical in character but enters the realm of purposeful action.

This introduces another new element into cultural behavior, an element which has its origin in the confrontation of one's own culture with other cultures—a difficult undertaking if the confrontation is to be based on the belief in the value of one's own culture and the respect for other cultures. In other words: "It is difficult for us to see ourselves as others see us."10

It stands to reason that a genuine confrontation whose outcome is not to be a cultural article produced through hybridization, but a truly intellectual exchange, will be hard to achieve.

 

The new role of light audio-visual equipment

Some observers have voiced the opinion that in view of the social and technological predominance of television the transition to spontaneous cultural manifestations was as difficult as the breakaway from the network of colonial and post-colonial lines of communication. Recent investigations indicate, however, that this pessimistic view is wrong or at least open to doubt. He who is spellbound by the strong appeal of the mass media and is content with lamenting about people being doomed to passive consumption, is likely to overlook the signs of a new impetus towards spontaneity and activity. In the fifties and sixties of our century audio-communication (through FM radio, stereo-techniques, record and tape-casettes) experienced an unprecedented boom in the industrial countries. But, particularly among the youth, the increasing supply of prefabricated programs went hand in hand with an explosion of active music-making, unforeseen by psychologists and educators. The very equipment that had initially been produced by the industry to communicate prefabricated music underwent a process of mutation. In the final instance electrically amplified instruments, microphones, amplifiers, mixing consoles, and the loudspeakers became tools in the service of spontaneous activities engaged in by youth groups. A similar trend has set in with respect to the audio-visual equipment. Videotape recorders—mainly of Japanese origin—are entering the fields of interest of youth groups and youth organizations and stimulate free creative activities. These activities pave the way for a new relationship—in the beginning, of course, mainly in the industrial countries—of young people to the media of mass communication. This new relationship may possibly help to change the attitude of young people towards mass media programs, a merely passive reception being replaced by critical analysis oriented along their own activities. The potential significance of such a changed attitude has been repeatedly referred to by pedagogically responsible researchers in the field of mass communication. As a point of illustration we quote a statement which, though of merely metaphorical character, is not without fundamental significance. At a scientific symposium held in Sofia in September 1972, Tamas Szecskô stated:

Think about the paradox: we have had an alphabet for centuries on end and still have to teach children to read very painstakingly, according to strict didactic methods. The television screen has come into existence during the last twenty years but no one teaches the children, the public, how to interpret the images on the screen.11

The new light equipment for audio-visual recording and reproduction offers a chance to trace the grammar and syntax of audio-visual communication. To interpret the images—as Tamas Szecskô calls it—and we may add to understand the correlation between image and sound is, to our mind, not learned through verbal criticism but through practical experience with the medium. One might say that here the proof of the pudding is not in the eating but in the cooking. The new technology also provides for a practical confrontation with what is favorably or pejoratively called "manipulation" in the field of the mass media. This is a factor which lends special significance to the reports about young people occupying themselves spontaneously with the technique of using light audio-visual equipment. Such reports have been submitted by the USA, Canada and some western European countries, but have as yet hardly been taken notice of by researchers. In some countries amateur programs by youth groups have even been included in TV programs, notably of local cable-TV networks.

One can hardly overestimate the importance of such a development for the process of media democratization desired by responsible cultural policy-makers. It is a factor which will have to be considered in the forecasts that may serve as decision-making aids in the field of cultural mass media policy. The occasional objections that light audio-visual equipment and techniques could only become catalysts of change in developed industrial countries is, to our mind, not conclusive and can be refuted by two arguments:

1. The purchasing and operating costs of such equipment are—in spite of inflation—steadily falling.

2. For individuals and groups to use the equipment it need not be privately owned but can be part of the equipment available at cultural centers or in youth organizations (which is already frequently the case now).

The use of such equipment by young people cannot merely be regarded as a neutral leisure-time activity or as an attempt to give the youngsters a chance to unfold their artistic creativity. The video-recorder may become a tool in drawing up a "book of complaints," in editing an audio-visual "cahier des doléances," which expresses the needs and wants of the youth. Indeed, youth groups in some countries are already employing it for this very purpose and one may reasonably assume that in the second half of the present decade this type of application will become even more widespread. This assumption is substantiated by the motives already mentioned but also by the fact that it is easier to learn how to handle light audio-visual equipment than to learn how to read and write (to come back once more to the above quoted, inadequate metaphor). It follows that the technological qualities of the equipment are in compliance with one motive that has been treated in this report—namely the desire of young people for "instant happiness" and "instant expression."

 

Youth culture as a dimension of life

The penetration of new technologies (audio as well as audio-visual techniques) into young peoples' cultural activities has brought into view another innovation for which no precise term has yet been found and which is, therefore, described in many different ways. What is meant are the close interlacings between cultural behavior patterns and political aims as well as artistic performances. What is started as an amateur undertaking does by no means always remain within that framework.12 Cultural and artistic manifestations become interlaced with political ones—which occasionally are even the principal motivating factors—and it is not the rule for them to get stuck in a free and easy layman's attitude. So it happens that artistic practices originally engaged in for the purpose of "self-enjoyment" reach a high aesthetic standard. In this way amateur groups develop into semi-professional teams who give occasional or regular performances addressed to a broader public.

This trend is frequently noticeable in developed countries, although it becomes hardly visible in cultural statistics. In most cases conventional investigations carried out for statistical purposes still fail to ask the questions that would be designed to cover this development. Thus, it is mentioned only in individual empirical studies, while it is by-passed by official and semi-official statistics. There is a striking connection between this semi-professionalization and a phenomenon that was signalled by European and Asian authorities and for which the term "trend towards neo-archaism" was suggested. In practical music-making the boundaries between folklore origins and contemporary forms of expression, even those making use of electro-acoustics, are not only getting blurred, but the two elements may even be blended. Orthodox ethnomusicologists will deprecatingly or condescendingly speak of hybridization; culturology has to register the fact that these are obviously new trends spreading across entire continents. Surprising though it may seem that folklore traditions still existing in less developed countries of the Third World should provide the basis for semi-professional innovations, it is striking to note similar trends towards unearthing partly forgotten folklore elements in the industrialized countries.

The intrusion of the vernacular into the melodic pattern is coupled with the introduction of local idioms into the language (e.g., beat with dialect lyrics). This trend towards a semi-professionalization of artistic activities initially conceived along amateur lines goes hand in hand with the convergence of music, dance, theatre and the audio-visual techniques. In the industrial countries, whose established culture is largely committed to a careful separation of the arts, the result is a new unity of the performing arts. In the developing countries, where this unity still exists as an unbroken tradition, it has lately been even further strengthened. The cultural behavior patterns of young people in more than one continent appear to be characterized by the effort to maintain and even to strengthen the unity of musical communication, body movement and dramatic performance—including also audio-visual techniques.

In consequence it becomes increasingly difficult to assign cultural activities of an artistic nature to a certain art category, in the sense of the European-Occidental tradition. Similar difficulties arise when semi-professional activities of the type mentioned are to be given their proper place in the time budget. I would be wrong to assign them to the leisure-time realm if—as is often the case—the groups give performances for money. On the other hand, it would be misleading to assign them to the working hours, if those participating in such a performance have their fixed place in the economy of a country, which provides them with the financial basis of existence. However, it ought not to be overlooked that the attempt at drawing a line between working hours and non-working hours or leisure time has, particularly in our age, given rise to new problems.

 

Concept of time, culture and art

Even the basic ideas about the relationship between leisure-time and cultural activities seem no longer as sound as they appeared to be only recently. Even if we accept the hypothesis that leisure time is "the main criterion of the wealth of a society,"13 there still remains the question whether the universal industrial development is designed to enlarge the leisure-time domain within the immediate future. Neither the forecasts by the "Club of Rome" nor the disturbed relationship between raw material producing and raw material consuming countries, nor the basic ideas contained in the mentioned Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order, permit the conclusion that the population of the industrial countries can for the immediate future count on a considerable increase in leisure-time.

The trends which were so eloquently summed up by Jay Forrester will also affect the development of the leisure-time budget:

Our greatest challenge now is to handle the transition from growth into equilibrium. The industrial societies have behind them long traditions that have encouraged and rewarded growth. The folklore and the success stories promise growth and expansion. But that is not the path of the future.14

Besides, one may assume that in many developing countries the terminological demarcation between working hours and non-working hours and the implied leisure-time is by no means as meaningful as some observers are inclined to believe. The separation of these time categories, even the mere rational break-down of the time used for the working process itself, is a phenomenon which emerged relatively late in the history of occidental Europe. To transfer these concepts without further examination to developing countries would again constitute an inadmissible transfer of methodologies. Experts in technological development aid, who in the course of their activity have been confronted with various notions of the time concept, will be able to confirm this warning.

If the cultural behavior patterns of young people are viewed in this perspective one discovers various new and distinct features. Their artistic manifestations are more and more frequently characterized by the lack of a precise time structure or even by the absence of a clearly perceptible "beginning" and a clearly noticeable "end." The claim to aesthetic value is not substantiated by the closed form of the work of art. "Open form" has become a veritable slogan in industrial countries; and this "openness" provides the meeting ground for pop-festivals, happenings, aleatorical compositions and dramatic performances including also the audience.

These manifestations without beginning and end find their opposite numbers in artistic manifestations, also without time structure, that are in keeping with the traditions of many developing countries. This absence of any time factor or structure has to be regarded as one of the phenomena characterizing a youth culture that is considered to be a dimension of life itself.

The above-mentioned factors of cultural change are not to be understood in a general sense. Those participating in the research project tend to believe that the cited trends will be gathering momentum in the immediate future, thus influencing cultural behavior in its entirety. But scientific honesty calls for prudence. It will be the task of research to collect all the data corroborating this assumption and it will be even more fruitful to follow the advice of Charles Darwin and to register most carefully all the phenomena contradicting one's own theory. In any case, those responsible for cultural policy-making have been able to single out from this cross-cultural survey a few signposts indicating the direction which the cultural behavior of young people seems to take. The near future will reveal if we are concerned with alleys or main roads of cultural development.


1Irmgard Bontinck (ed.), New Patterns of Musical Behavior (Vienna, 1974).

2Kurt Blaukopf, Neue musikalische Verhaltensweisen der Jugend (Mayence, 1974).

3Kurt Blaukopf (ed.), Schule und Umwelt. Interdisziplinäre Aspekte musikpädagogischer Untersuchungen (Wolfenbüttel, 1975).

4Kurt Blaukopf and Desmond Mark (eds.), The Cultural Behavior of Youth (Vienna, 1976).

5Fred Sinowatz, "Zur sozialistischen Kulturpolitik [On socialist cultural policy]," Informationsdienst für Bildungspolitik und Forschung 1974, No. 219, Nov. 1, 1974 (reprint of a speech made by the Austrian Minister for Education and the Arts).

6Leonid A. Gordon and Eduard V. Klopov, Chelovek posle raboty [Man after Work] (in Russian) (Moscow, 1972), pp. 341-57.

7Ways and Means whereby UNESCO Could Contribute to the Establishment of a New International Economic Order, UNESCO Document 18 C/103 (Paris, 1974), Para 17.

8See Tran Van Khe, "The 'Juke-Box' Crisis in Asian Music," UNESCO Courier, 26th year (June 1973), p. 6.

9Kaarle Nordenstreng and Tapio Varis, Television traffic—A one-way street?, UNESCO, 1974.

10Narayana Menon, Music Culture of Peoples. Tradition and Contemporaneity in Developing Countries, IMDT Document (mimeographed).

11Tamas Szecskô, "Remarks on the functions of the mass communication system in socialist society," Man in the System of Mass Communications (Sofia, 1974), p. 141.

12See Kurt Blaukopf, "New Patterns of Musical Behavior of the Young Generation in Industrial Societies" and Arlette Ambrozic-Paic, "Mass Media and Pop Groups in Yugoslavia," both in Irmgard Bontinck (ed.), New Patterns of Musical Behavior (Vienna, 1974).

13Zahari Staikov, "Time-budgets and technological progress," in Alexander Szalai (ed.), The Use of Time (Paris, 1973), p. 474.

14Jay W. Forrester, World Dynamics (Paris, 1972), p. 112.

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