Higher, Faster, Louder: Representations of the International Music Competition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Competitions have been a visible and controversial part of the classical music world for over a century, yet sociologists have strangely neglected to study their social significance.This article explores the competition's ongoing contest for legitimacy by considering the case of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.Through a discourse analysis of publicity materials and media coverage, I reconstruct the symbolic frameworks that guide the construction of the event and the interpretation of competitors' performances. I also trace the critical challenge to the idealized representations of the event, and decode the gender ideologies implied in commonly used metaphors. Demonstrating the centrality of meaning in musical production and reception, I aim to expose the limitations of the production perspective and Bourdieu's model of the artistic field, offering in their place a new approach based on social performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-30
JournalCultural Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2009


  • competition
  • culture
  • discourse analysis
  • gender
  • mass media
  • sociology of music
  • performance
  • sacred
  • narrative
  • sociology of art
  • critique of Bourdieu


Dive into the research topics of 'Higher, Faster, Louder: Representations of the International Music Competition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this