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Identity sequences and the early adoption pattern of a jazz canon, 1920–1929

Categories in Markets: Origins and Evolution

ISBN: 978-0-85724-593-9, eISBN: 978-0-85724-594-6

ISSN: 0733-558X

Publication date: 21 December 2010


We explore how the long-run success of cultural products is affected by the identities of the product's originators and early adopters. Using U.S. jazz recordings from 1920 to 1929, we found that songs were more likely to be later covered from 1944 to 2004 if they followed a pattern of having black originators and white early adopters. Moreover, we provide evidence that this pattern is independent of a song's commercial success, resources available to a song's originators, and group-level indicators such as size and experience. We conclude that late adopters (musicians after World War II (WWII)) were attracted to songs that followed a narrative of both “lowbrow” origins and early adoption by those considered “highbrow” with respect to jazz. The findings also support a new means for considering the role of identities as the building blocks of genres, in particular, and categories more generally.


Kahl, S., Kim, Y.-K. and Phillips, D.J. (2010), "Identity sequences and the early adoption pattern of a jazz canon, 1920–1929", Hsu, G., Negro, G. and Koçak, Ö. (Ed.) Categories in Markets: Origins and Evolution (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 31), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 81-113.



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