Minor language and major responses in the field of popular music in Israel

Avi Shoshana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This article offers a sociological description and analysis of a cultural performance that has been recurrent in the field of popular music in Israel since 1980-namely, people in "prestigious" cultural locations publically attacking the quality of what is called "Oriental music." Analysis of these verbal assaults shows that they take the form of accusations and insults against the "improper" language of Oriental music (described as "inarticulate," "insubstantial," and "impoverished"). In-depth interviews with Orientals (Mizrahim) who listen to Oriental music reveal a number of private responses to these public attacks: describing the attacks as premeditated assaults; emphasizing their existential otherness; stressing language as a central expression of otherness; and hegemonic obstructions to the hedonistic enjoyment of Oriental music. In order to reach a nuanced understanding of the relations between cultural hierarchies, language and identities in the field of popular music-this article makes use of Deleuze and Guattari's concepts of "major language" and "minor language." These concepts contribute to a discussion about how a specific cultural performance creates social gazes, public visibility and personal reflexivity that, in turn, reinforces social inequality in the field of Israeli popular music.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-500
Number of pages20
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Deleuze and Guattari
  • Ethnicity
  • Major language
  • Minor language
  • Popular music


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