Institutionalized erasures: How global structures acquire national meanings in Israeli popular music

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This study applies a neo-institutional approach to explore how musical genres acquire national meanings even as they are adopted from exogenous global models. Drawing upon world society paradigm and glocal translation studies, it is argued that current theorizing has yet to address how a sense of national uniqueness emerges in local organizational fields despite their dependence on global isomorphism. A research strategy is offered to explore this paradox of isomorphic national uniqueness, suggesting that global structures acquire national meanings through subtle processes of institutionalized erasures in the adopting field. Drawing on a case-study of Israeli radio during privatization reforms, I analyze the emergence of a " light" version of Mizrahi music (of Middle Eastern background) and its crossover to mainstream Israeli playlists, following a market repositioning as " Mediterranean pop." It is shown how exogenous models of US commercial format radio, as well as Arab popular music styles, were reassigned national meanings by various mechanisms of active or oblivious erasure. Correspondences with Turkish Arabesk and American rock'n'roll are discussed. It is suggested that national meanings should be studied as systematic erasures intrinsically coupled to the very spread of isomorphic global models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-236
Number of pages20
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Poetics, Timothy Dowd and Susanne Janssen, and the anonymous reviewers for their instructive ideas and suggestions. The research was supported by the Hammer Scholarship of the Second Authority for Television and Radio.


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