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Founded in 1996 by Harris M. Berger, the Popular Music Section is an intellectual community of more than 600 members within the Society for Ethnomusicology. Members share overlapping interests in the study of popular music, both broadly and narrowly defined. Broadly defined, the ethnomusicological study of popular music engages the concrete social activities of musical participants, including mass mediated musics, musics developed on a local level, musics developing outside of established institutional power structures, music emerging in the context of the international industry, musics developing with limited forms of institutionalized pedagogy or orally transmitted musics. Popular music may also be construed in a more narrow fashion, in which case any one of these elements may serve as guiding definition. PMSSEM has an interdisciplinary mission in research, education, and institutional infrastructure.

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