An acquired taste: the enduring legacy of progressive rock​

  • Paul Goodge

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The objective of this thesis is to address the growing recognition that in the world of
music appreciation, the voice of fans needs to be heard, so as to enrich our
understanding of how and why popular music forms are valorized. The unspectacular
fans of Progressive rock music have particularly been excluded from academic, scholarly,
and journalistic discourse. Using Grounded Theory as a research basis, this thesis
privileges and foregrounds the views of 51 Progressive rock amateur aficionados, and
explores the motivations behind their lifetimes of enduring fandom. One-on-one
interviews with each participant, and six six-person Focus Groups, provided over 100
hours of primary research, and enabled key findings to be analyzed, and new theories
to be advanced. The heterogenous nature of Progressive rock was mirrored in these
fans’ perspectives. This research shed new light on how fans contextualize and define
this musical meta-genre (‘A Contextualizaton’). In their own words, and contra extant
theories, their perspectives bring to life how and why they repeatedly immerse
themselves in their preferred music, clearly delineating textual and contextual elements
(‘The Complexity Attraction’). The socio-cultural settings within which Progressive rock
is listened to, engaged with, and enjoyed, signifies individual, rather than wider societal,
approaches to understanding music appreciation and the valorization of music artefacts
and history, giving rise to a notion termed ‘mea cultura’. Finally, the correspondences
between participating fans’ appreciation of Progressive rock’s evolution, and their own
reception of it, reveal some hitherto unrecognized paradoxes (‘The Progressive
Paradox’). Across a broad range of fields, this thesis advances our understanding of
Progressive rock fandom through the eyes and ears of those rarely heard from.
Date of Award24 Jan 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Solent University
SupervisorMartin James (Supervisor)

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