First Advisor

David Ritchie

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Communication Studies and University Honors






Cultural industries, Mass media -- Social aspects, Rap (Music) -- Social aspects, Country music -- Social aspects, Music trade




In mass communication, gatekeeping refers to how information is edited, shaped and controlled in efforts to construct a "social reality." One way it presents itself is in regard to racial inclusion and equality, and despite the headway we’ve seemingly made as a society, we are still lightyears away from where we need to be. Because of this, the concept of cultural property has become even more paramount, as a means for keeping one's cultural history and identity-preserved. Blacks and whites similarly attempt to protect or preserve facets of their culture they feel belong to them. What’s different for both of these racial groups is how these cultural preservations are talked about, perceived and managed within the larger whole of society, as well as the fact that one seems more protecting or preserving than the other. Music ends up being a good example of a cultural symbol as lyrics are often narratives of experiences, and the actual music itself can communicate those narratives in a different fashion. Two genres that are as racially polarized as they are characteristically different—hip-hop and country. Each of these is dominated by one race, Black and white respectively, in their representation in the music industry, though their fanbases tend to cross the racial lines more effectively. In my thesis research, I will be looking at not if, but how cultural gatekeeping is different for Blacks and whites within the music industry, and the mechanisms in place that make it the way it is.


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