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Defining the Discographic SelfDesert Island Discs in Context$
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Julie Brown, Nicholas Cook, and Stephen Cottrell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266175

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266175.001.0001

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What does it mean to be cultured? Desert Island Discs as an ideological archive

What does it mean to be cultured? Desert Island Discs as an ideological archive

(p.125) 7 What does it mean to be cultured? Desert Island Discs as an ideological archive
Defining the Discographic Self

Simon Frith

, Julie Brown, Nicholas Cook, Stephen Cottrell
British Academy

This chapter is concerned with the cultural ideology of Desert Island Discs. It argues that the way DID is organised, as an interview programme on BBC Radio 4, has a paradoxical effect. If, apparently, Desert Island Discs involves the weekly reiteration of the argument that music is at the centre of people’s lives, its ideological assumption, as a radio programme, is that music does not really matter much. This argument is illustrated by a detailed examination of the programme’s choices of records and guests, organised in terms of musical genre. Some interesting aspects of musical taste emerge, such as the absence of folk music and changing status of jazz, but, in the end, what the data show most clearly is that a programme format depending on a rather limited account of what it means to listen to music has, nevertheless, colonised the musical imagination of the British public.

Keywords:   cultural ideology, records, Radio 4, entertainment, genre

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