PhD student Taylor Price recently won the 2020 Daniel G. Hill Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Sociology. This award is presented annually to an Ontario resident graduate student and is chosen on the basis of the quality of a paper published between July and June of the award year.
Taylor received the award for his paper, “Posthumous Consecration in Rock’s Legitimating Discourse” which was published in the June 2020 volume of Poetics. We featured his paper in an earlier article here. We have posted the abstract below and the full text of the article can be accessed through the Poetics website here.
Taylor is currently in enrolled in his fifth year in the Ph.D. program. He received his BA and MA in sociology from Lakehead University. He recently published a paper entitled “Cognition in Situations” in Symbolic Interaction which examines Blumer’s epistemological statements and the interactionist tradition more broadly to consider how dual process models of cognition could be applied to naturally occurring situations. The paper can be found on the Symbolic Interaction website here.
Talyor’s supervisors are Dr. Shyon Baumann, Dr. Vanina Leschziner and Dr. Clayton Childress. He is currently conducting participant-observation and interviews with songwriters, producers, and engineers. This project is designed to contribute theories of creativity and collaboration in sociology with recourse to naturalistic and ethnographic data.
Posthumous consecration in rock’s legitimating discourse
Poetics, Volume 80, June 2020
By Taylor Price
This article advances the concept of posthumous consecration. I first draw on previous literature to demonstrate that posthumous reputations are important components of fields before conceptualizing a “posthumous” variant of cultural consecration and then adopting this concept in thematic and content analyses of rock album reviews. Through my analyses of 336 lifetime and posthumous album reviews, I find two salient discursive processes in the album review sections of rock magazines that follow in the wake of the death of a consecrated figure. First, critics revise the categorical boundaries spanned by rock artists after their deaths. I find striking patterns in how critics draw comparisons between rockers who made their recording debut either before or after 1975 that suggest the categorical membership(s) ascribed by critics to living and dead public figures in a cultural field are dependent on the degree of autonomy at the level of the field. I use this finding to develop the argument that death plays a critical role in how cultural fields achieve autonomy. Second, I find that irrespective of whether the field has a high or low degree of autonomy, critics ascribe coherence to an artist’s body of work to a much greater extent in reviews of posthumous offerings compared to reviews of lifetime offerings. I argue that coherence is highly valued within rock’s legitimating discourse and critics are more likely to attribute coherence to the works of deceased rock musicians which contributes to their symbolic advantage over their living counterparts.