Critical negotiations

rock criticism in the Nordic countries


  • Ulf Lindberg Malmö University
  • Gestur Gudmundsson Iceland University of Education
  • Morten Michelsen University of Copenhagen
  • Hans Weisethaunet University of Oslo



popular music criticism, Scandinavia


This article examines the development of rock criticism in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland in the light of the Bourdieuian theory of cultural fields. We establish that fields with distinct autonomous poles do develop in each country between 1965 and 1980 but that it is not possible to talk about a common, Nordic field. Instead, each national field has to a large extent followed the general developments in the British or American fields (e.g. postmodern lifestyle criticism, consumer guidance, described in Lindberg et al. 2005) and taken in at least some of the specific characteristics of Anglo-American rock criticism while at the same time relating to and challenging, among other things, local literary and political traditions. One main difference, though, is that Nordic criticism to a large extent has been developed in daily newspapers and less so in specialized magazines. In a centre-periphery perspective it is interesting to notice that even though Nordic rock music has begun to blur the borders between the poles, local rock criticism has probably never been read outside its country of origin, mainly due to language barriers. On the other hand local rock criticism has helped question centre-periphery relations from the inside, i.e. how the foreign music made sense locally for both listeners and musicians.

Author Biographies

Ulf Lindberg, Malmö University

Ulf Lindbergis lecturer at the Department of Teacher Education at Malmö University, Sweden. Department of Teacher Education, Malmö University Nordenskiöldsgatan 10 S-205 06 Malmö, Sweden

Gestur Gudmundsson, Iceland University of Education

Gestur Gudmundsson is professor of sociology at the Iceland University of Education. Iceland University of Education Stakkahlid IS-105 Reykjavik, Iceland

Morten Michelsen, University of Copenhagen

Morten Michelsen is associate professor in the Department of Musicology, University of Copenhagen. Department of Musicology University of Copenhagen Klerkegade 2 DK-1308 Copenhagen, Denmark

Hans Weisethaunet, University of Oslo

Hans Weisethaunet is professor and head of department in the Department of Musicology, University of Oslo. Department of Musicology University of Oslo P.O.Box 1017 Blindern N-0315 Oslo, Norway


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How to Cite

Lindberg, U., Gudmundsson, G., Michelsen, M., & Weisethaunet, H. (2004). Critical negotiations: rock criticism in the Nordic countries. Popular Music History, 1(3), 241–262.