Deindustrialisation and Popular Music is a qualitative study of deindustrialisation and popular music in Manchester, Düsseldorf, Torino, and Tampere. In these European industrial cities, during the late 1970s and early 1980s, punk and ‘post-punk’ scenes actively shaped new collective forms of making and consuming music. Why there and then? Is ‘sound’ simply a result / consequence of a structural economic change and a reflection of certain negative spatial circumstances?
The book undermines this understanding of sound in crisis and examines music during deindustrialisation as ‘vanishing mediator’. Fredric Jameson developed the concept of vanishing mediator to explain the dialectical method in the work of Max Weber, especially in relation to The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. For Weber, according to Jameson, Protestantism was fundamental in the transition between pre-capitalism and capitalism; it acted as a bridge between two systems that are mutually exclusive and by taking this function it vanished, and was deprived of its initial function.
Punk and ‘post-punk’ in industrial cities had a similar function, they created a transition and a translation of meanings and practices from the industrial city, based on material tangible and serial production, to the post-industrial city, based on symbolic consumption, tourism, technology and creativity. Music mediated this passage, having characteristics of both these ‘worlds’ and it didn’t really vanish. Punk and ‘post-punk’ from former industrial cities are not dead, but their social function has changed radically. They have gone from being a subaltern and critical block, but also a communitarian and celebratory one, to ‘cultural catalysts’, especially in relation to post-industrial cities and to their exploitation of place and heritage.