Who's country? : politics and ideology in country music



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Traditionally, country music has been stereotyped as music concerned with pick-up trucks, beer, and broken hearts. While these are among the many themes found in the genre, this simplistic stereotyping trivializes the significance of country music as an ideological cultural force in the U.S. This trivialization has resulted in country music being left largely unexamined by social scientists and theorists. Those studies that do address the genre often limit their discussions to social class—whiteness remains invisible and gender unexamined. The purpose of this study is to analyze the ideologies found in representations of whiteness within the lyrics of country music songs. Whiteness and masculinity are privileged in the U.S., but it is often difficult to point to how these two identity points maintain legitimacy. Through an analysis of the representations found in the genre, country music is analyzed as a production of hegemonic whiteness that relies on particular gender, religious, and nationalistic tropes in its production. It is also argued that country music makes claim about who is truly American; claims saturated with ideologies of race, gender, and class.