Political scientists like myself have surveys on the determinants of black political ideology, on political participation, on sexual attitudes. But examining the cultural politics literature, it appears as if no one has sought to apply the various things we’ve learned about survey research to the realm of cultural politics.
Should hip-hop be thought of as an American art form, or as an African American art form specifically? Do MCs have a duty to talk about the problems of poverty and racism in their lyrics? Are the best female MCs equal to or better than their male counterparts? Survey research is uniquely suited to not only assess the degree to which youth hold these attitudes, it is uniquely suited to ferret out potential determinants of these attitudes.
I’ve got a number of ideas about why these methods haven’t taken hold within American Culture Studies. ACS is largely dominated by the humanities and is much more of a theoretical enterprise. As such there is a tendency to shy away from econometric approaches to human life. But there are some questions that are uniquely suited to be answered using traditional social science tools. I suspect there exists an entire clan of us–folks trained in the social sciences who are dying to apply our skills to ACS questions. Could be hip-hop that drags ACS kicking and screaming into the new millenium.I’ve added a new blog to my blogroll. Democracy and Hip-Hop represents an attempt to add some theoretical heft to many of the discussions currently blazing hip-hop blogs. Check it out (JEREMY YOU’D LIKE THIS) if you get a chance.