Global Dichotomies on a Local Scale: A Grounded Theory Approach to Turkish Hip-Hop Culture
Abstract: The concepts of ‘Old School’ and ‘New School’, peculiar to hip-hop's lexicon, have long been framed by theories of subculture heavily drawing on a binary scale of authenticity and inauthenticity. This dichotomy is widely used to characterize a discursive conflict between the authentic aspects of hip-hop music and its excessively commercialized versions undermining hip-hop’s counter-hegemonic potential. However, studies applying that binary scale to local hip-hop cultures as an ideal type tend to obscure the contextual nature of hip-hop’s terminology. The application of that theoretical framework results in a serious reductionism regarding the in-group/out-group dynamics within hip-hop cultures, namely ‘Old School’ being the authentic, non-commercial underground, and ‘New School’ being the inauthentic, commercial mainstream. Building on the principles of grounded theory, this thesis has developed a bottom-up approach, specific to the context of the research, in order to avoid shortcomings stemming from preconceived theories, and has theorized participants’ own interpretation of the context. Following the sequential application of textual data gathering and intensive interviews, six discursive dimensions regarding the in-group/out-group conflict between ‘Old School’’ and ‘New School’ hip-hop in Turkey have been discovered. Consequently, this thesis has made both methodological and contextual contributions to the literature. Methodologically, it has revealed the drawbacks stemming from the deductive nature of subcultural theories, as well as the discursive reductionism that these theories suffer from. Contextually, it has demonstrated that the ways in which people draw in-group/out-group boundaries in hip-hop cultures are more sophisticated than the dichotomy of authenticity and inauthenticity can grasp, by setting Turkey as a counterfactual example.
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