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Public, Private, Popular: Pop Performers, Liberalism and the Limits of Rights
  • Matt Stahl, The University of Western Ontario
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American popular music discourse and pop performers' political practice frequently give prominence to questions of rights, particularly in relation to musical property and labour. This article examines these two rights issues as they appear in popular media and in lawmaking. The article invokes the liberal division of life into "public" and "private" realms in order to explicate the mechanics of rights claims in media and legislative forums, and to explore their relationship with aspects of liberal common sense. It draws on a political-theoretical framework to problematize liberalism's basic division of life into "public" and "private" realms, and suggests that pop performers' efforts to protect or expand such rights may enact a self-cancelling or even regressive logic.


This article was originally published by the Canadian Society for Traditional Music in MUSICultures and is openly available at

Citation Information
Matt Stahl. "Public, Private, Popular: Pop Performers, Liberalism and the Limits of Rights" MUSICultures Vol. 41 Iss. 1 (2014) p. 93 - 114
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