Friday, January 09, 2015

O "heavy metal", economia e sociedade

How Heavy Metal Tracks the Wealth of Nations, por Richard Florida:

Popular music styles are often closely connected to the social situations where they first began. (...)

Heavy metal is a strange case, then. The music sprouted originally from working-class kids in economically ravaged, deindustrialized places like Birmingham, England. Even today, it seems to be most popular among disadvantaged, alienated, working-class kids.

But take a look at the map below, which I wrote about two years ago, and have been thinking again about over the past couple of months. It tracks the number of heavy metal bands per 100,000 residents using data from the Encyclopaedia Metallum. The genre holds less sway in the ravaged postindustrial places of its birth, but remains insanely popular in Scandinavian countries known for their relative wealth, robust social safety nets, and incredibly high quality of life. (...)

So with the help of my Martin Prosperity Institute colleague Charlotta Mellander, I examined the connections between heavy metal and a range of economic and social factors. What we found may surprise you. Mellander, who is Swedish, attributes Scandinavia’s proclivity for heavy metal bands to its governments’ efforts to put compulsory music training in schools, which created a generation with the musical chop to meet metal’s technical demands. (As The Atlantic noted last fall, this has helped the region excel in pop music as well). As always, I point out that correlation does not equal causation and points simply to associations between variables.

What we found is that that the number of heavy metal bands in a given country is associated with its wealth and affluence.

At the country-level, the number of heavy metal bands per capita is positively associated with economic output per capita (.71); level of creativity (.71) and entrepreneurship (.66); share of adults that hold college degrees (.68); as well as overall levels of human development (.79), well-being, and satisfaction with life (.60).

The bottom line? Though metal may be the music of choice for some alienated working-class males, it enjoys its greatest popularity in the most advanced, most tolerant, and knowledge-based places in the world. Strange as it may seem, heavy metal springs not from the poisoned slag of alienation and despair but the loamy soil of post-industrial prosperity. This makes sense after all: while new musical forms may spring from disadvantaged, disgruntled, or marginalized groups, it is the most advanced and wealthy societies that have the media and entertainment companies that can propagate new sounds and genres, as well as the affluent young consumers with plenty of leisure time who can buy it.

Essa tese parece-me ter alguns pontos fracos (aliás, o Richard Florida parece ser um pensador não muito rigoroso):

Em primeiro lugar, avaliar a importância de um dado género musical apenas pelo número de bandas desse género (por habitante) não me parece a melhor metodologia, já que pode estar simplesmente a medir haver muitas bandas, seja de que género for (e nesse caso o artigo se calhar também se poderia chamar "How Pop Music Tracks the Wealth of Nations" ou mesmo "How Orff Orchestras Tracks the Wealth of Nations"); o que faria mais sentido seria um racio entre bandas de "metal" e bandas de outro tipo musical.

Em segundo lugar, é conveniente distinguir entre "jovens da classe trabalhadora de zonas industriais ou recém-desindustrializadas" e "pobres" - a popularidade do heavy metal nos países ricos não é contraditória com o ser a música típica dos jovens da classe trabalhadora de zonas industriais ou recém-desindustrializadas, já que esse grupo de pessoas até pode ter mais peso demográfico em países "ricos" do que em países "pobres".

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