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Book: Trajectories and Themes in World Popular Music

Chapter: The Cool Culture of Neoliberal Capitalism

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.34462


Chapter 4 explores the way that popular music consumption of the noughties became influenced by a new cultural logic—the cool and the hip. Chapter 4 first explores the origins of cool and establishes the idea that neoliberal capitalism is cool capitalism. In the age of neoliberal capitalism, the ideology of cool determines cultural production and consumption, and has thereby become the focal point of popular culture globally, influencing a diverse range of contemporary trends and fields from food, music, and fashion, to technology and cinema. The hip and the cool are examples of non-economic forms of value created through branding practices. Coolness has become an incredibly powerful concept within business and marketing. It is a universal motivator for teens and youths, as well as for a large range of other age groups. Coolness excites consumers, adds symbolic value to products, and drives consumer trends. Coolness and consumption are intrinsically linked. Consumption in postmodern popular culture is central to identity formation and acquisition of status—cool, triggering in consumers the desire to achieve a cool lifestyle through consumption. The cool culture of neoliberal capitalism is clearly evident in the branding processes surrounding the “cool celebrity personae”, relevant to which is artists’ resilience to contemporary forms of (gendered, racist) patriarchy presented in much contemporary world popular music. Chapter 4 illustrates the way that coolness is gendered, exploring cool masculinities and cool postfeminism in world popular music, while showing “our” cultural complicities with patriarchy and the persistence of racism and sexism in cool popular culture globally. Moreover, cool technologies have further contributed to the veritable explosion of commodity fetishism and cool seduction under cool capitalism. Cool (neoliberal) popular culture extols celebrity and success, and promotes and celebrates values of the public self and possessive individualism.

Chapter Contributors

  • Simone Krüger Bridge ( - skruger) 'Liverpool John Moores University'