Musical and Social Structures: Marxist Interpretations of Popular Music in the 1960s and early 1970s in Hungary and the UK


  • Emília Barna IASPM Hungary // Budapest University of Technology and Economics
  • Ádám Ignácz IASPM Hungary // Institute of Musicology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences


Popular Music Studies, Marxism, Eastern Europe, New Left, Maróthy


Popular music studies as a field has been criticised from within for still predominantly favouring sociological approaches, as opposed to offering an analysis of the musical text that incorporates the social. What is missing from such debates, however, is that writings calling for a popular music aesthetic are almost as old as the scholarly study of popular music. Andrew Chester’s “For a Rock Aesthetic”, published in New Left Review in 1970 is an example. Popular music studies, however, also produced works in Eastern Europe at around the same time, building on the results of a new Marxist musicology and sociology of music that drew on both musical and sociological aspects in music analysis. We compare British leftist and Marxist analyses of popular music phenomena of the 1960s and early 1970s with the work of Hungarian scholars such as János Maróthy looking at trends in popular music from a Marxist perspective.

Author Biography

Emília Barna, IASPM Hungary // Budapest University of Technology and Economics

Róza Emília Barna, PhD, Assistant Professor, sociologist and popular music studies scholar acquired her doctoral degree at the University of Liverpool Institute of Popular Music in 2011. Her thesis examined the relationship between music scenes, networks and the internet through a case study of contemporary Liverpool indie rock bands. Her main areas of research include the study of music scenes and genres, media representations and discourses of popular music, as well as the sociological study of music communities and music making. She also teaches as part of the ‘University of Music’ programme of the University of Pécs. She is a founding member and current Chair of the Hungarian branch of the International Association of the Study of Popular Music, a member of the editors’ Advisory Board of IASPM@Journal, and editor of the Hungarian-language Music Networks Journal.



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