Symbolic Interactionist Takes on Music: Volume 47

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Table of contents

(13 chapters)

Prelims

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Abstract

My focus in this paper is on the meaning that rock music has for fans of Lou Reed. I use the comments following his death as my primary data. These data were posted on the New York Times website in the comments section following the report “Outsider Whose Dark, Lyrical Vision Helped Shape Rock ‘n’ Roll.” From these data I develop what I call “the marginal self” in reference to how rock music helps self-identified marginalized persons to deal with their social exclusion and alienation. Drawing on Kotarba’s (2012) analytic categories of the self, I will show how these data give insight into a wide range of existential meanings related to the music of Lou Reed. For many who wrote these comments their reading of Lou Reed has been an essential transformative part of their life in similar ways to baby boomers as outlined in Kotarba’s (2012) Baby Boomers Rock ‘n’ Roll Fans: The Music Never Ends. I first show how Kotarba’s (2012) core concepts of the musical self provide insight into how fans of Lou Reed develop a sense of self through Reed’s music. I then turn to a discussion of the marginalized self as a development of Kotarba’s (2012) categories of “authenticity work” and “becoming of the self.” Suggestions for future research are noted.

Abstract

In jam festival music scenes, participants build elaborate networks that connect members formally and informally between music events. Largely regional in scope, participants form these networks to develop and perform scene identities and cultivate intimate social relationships. Emerging through cultivated “crews” and “camps,” members build hubs of interaction that sustain and persist well beyond the festival event to create a vital sense of belonging and place. While the affective relationships formed at music festival events tend to be temporary, diffuse, and episodic, scene networks provide a “portable” interactional infrastructure that promotes relational continuity and persistence. These networks also provide more pragmatic benefits to networked members in the form of social and subcultural capital exchanged for symbolic and material rewards within the scene. Drawing from nearly 20 years of formal and informal participant observation in festival scenes, I provide an analysis of these networks and articulate common practices that drive their formation and continuation.

Abstract

This paper depicts barbershop singing as a masculine social form, and compares and contrasts the original masculine form with the ways the form is feminized. Two organizations, Sweet Adelines International (SAI) and The Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) perform and promote barbershop singing. We document the devices used to feminize the form (naming, song selection, choreography, fashion, and organizational style), and argue that an interaction between form and content takes place in the women’s organization that genders the form in spite of its original masculine meanings. Theoretically significant is the description of how feminizing a masculine form reinforces the conservative ethos of, and hence senses of membership in, the barbershop form. Demonstrating that forms can accommodate even culturally distinctive content has implications for understanding the interaction between form and content.

Abstract

In this paper, I use 33 interviews with songwriters to explore the relationship between songwriting and emotion, particularly as it relates to the lived and embodied aspects of emotional experience. I contend that songwriting can be understood as a form of sensual reflection and inquiry, one that synthesizes the emotional and evocative properties of both music and language. For songwriters, the creative process of songwriting serves as an embodied vehicle through which to assign meaning to lived emotional experience and the self. Resultant performances represent an expressive forum in which to communicate the outcomes of this process. For sociologists of emotion, examining the neglected process of songwriting represents an opportunity to extend the study of emotion beyond discursive and dramaturgical approaches, lending fresh insight into the lived, embodied character of emotion.

Abstract

In this paper I bring together interaction, media, deviance, self, and identity to make sense of how young Singaporeans consume Korean popular (hereafter, K-pop) music and culture. My overarching goal is to highlight that being a music fan is not a straightforward or even easy experience. Rather, the self as music fan is continually developing within a complex variety of social processes, from the circulation of global, mass media representations to inter- and intra-personal interactions. I present data collected from a study on K-pop music consumption in Singapore, a small island-nation in Southeast Asia with an insatiable thirst for foreign culture. The data show how a group of Singaporean K-pop fans were regularly bombarded with largely negative messages about what it means to be K-pop music fans, and how these meanings affected their own negotiations as fans. K-pop fandom provided a sense of shared identity and status within popular youth culture, yet their experiences were often soured by negative media portrayals of deviant fans, whose behaviors risked stigmatizing the K-pop social identity. This paper thus deals with some of the problems for self that being a music fans entails.

Abstract

The body of scholarship on YouTube is an expanding area of scholarly inquiry. Existent research indicates that music videos are one of the most salient features of YouTube. Interactionist research about popular music has provided important insights through interviews with fans and audience members; however, this work has yet to examine audience engagement with music videos on YouTube. Using Qualitative Media Analysis, I illustrate how the researcher of popular music can work with user comments collected from YouTube. Thematic understandings largely consistent with nostalgia that emerged from an analysis of user-generated comments in response to selected music videos on YouTube are explored. I conclude by suggesting some directions for future research.

Abstract

This paper builds upon a new era of research seeking to understand variability in how desirable outcomes result from engaging rap music as a health enhancing artifact. More specifically, the study explores the music mediated pathways to individual and community well-being. The study emphasizes female music engagement. Quantitative methods are used to examine listening habits and preferences associated with empowering rap music engagement among a female sample of 202 university students using an a priori established path analysis model. Results echo prior research that suggests the functional value of music in helping to define the self independently and articulate one’s social identity within the context of community (Dixon, Zhang, & Conrad, 2009; Hill, 2009; Travis & Bowman, 2012). Specifically, results suggest that among females in this sample, (a) their appropriation of rap music can be empowering, (b) specific factors play a significant role in determining the difference between females that feel more or less empowered from their interactions with rap music, and (c) female listeners were more likely to appropriate rap music for personal and community growth if it was their favorite music type, if they listened often, and if they tended to listen alone more often than with friends. These research findings offer promising routes for more in depth qualitative analysis to help uncover the nuances of preferred engagement strategies and to help define the subjective lived experiences that lead to feeling empowered by music to act toward positive change for oneself and others. Practical results indicate the possibility for gender-specific education, therapeutic or empowerment-based programs that utilize rap music as a rubric.

Abstract

This paper presents findings from an ethnographic study of Christian hip hop music performed and practiced in Central Texas. I examine the emerging Christian rap scene through the experiences of members of the local social group known as The 51210 Movement. The 51210 Movement includes various Christian rappers, singers, songwriters, musicians, producers, and sound technicians. Their activities center on the multiple uses of Christian rap within their local communities. The central Texas Christian rap scene is situated within the musically rich city of Austin, the “Live Music Capitol of the World,” and San Antonio, a culturally and religiously diverse city. I focus on how members of The 51210 Movement use Christian rap as a proselytizing and pedagogical tool, how Christian rappers work together to create a self-perpetuating Christian rap scene, and how members of The 51210 Movement negotiate the interplay between the sacred and secular forms of rap to maintain religious authenticity.

Abstract

By applying Erving Goffman’s concept of role embracement (1961), I analyze the role of a hardcore music fan, online and offline. I collected ethnographic data from discussion boards, an online questionnaire, interviews, emails, private messaging, and field observation to provide support for the usefulness of Goffman’s concept to illuminate aspects of online and offline role performances. “Attachment,” “demonstration,” and “engagement” are the three elements of role embracement that illustrate aspects of the hardcore fan’s passion for the Rolling Stones, expressed both on the Internet and in everyday face-to-face situations. The study shows that Goffman’s ideas about a person’s commitment to a role and the handling of potential stigma (1963) in relation to it can help researchers understand how fans or those belonging to a special interest community enact their roles in the ever-growing seamlessness of the offline/online spheres.

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Abstract

In this brief essay, I will describe the compatibility of a postmodern turn in sociology and the symbolic interactionist approach to the study of music in everyday life. This compatibility is reflected in the work and career of musical artist Matisyahu, as illustrated by the concept of pastiche. The interaction among the three dimensions of image, music, and religious ideology in Matisyahu’s work operationalizes this concept. The primary resources for this analysis include Matisyahu’s recorded music; an interview conducted with him by The Times of Israel in which he explains his personal transition from the Labuvitch movement to the Modern Orthodox Movement and how this transition affected his music; and my attendance at four of his concerts in Central Texas. Pastiche refers to “a free-floating, crazy quilt, collage, hodgepodge patchwork of ideas or views. It includes elements of opposites such as the old and new. It denies regularity, logic or symmetry; it glories in contradiction and confusion” (Rosenau, 1991, xiii). I conclude with a brief pedagogical argument on how to expand the use of music to explain complex sociological theory and social phenomena. By highlighting theoretical concepts through music, we can ground new and complex ideas in lived experiences and engage students with a topic that is grounded in their daily life experience.

Abstract

“Music is Rhythm, Rhythm is Life.” This maxim, uttered by former Motown drummer Bill “Sticks” Nicks to my class and me a few years back, opens a portal to what being human involves. Most accounts of what it means to be human make cognitive capacities, language and reflective thinking, the be-all and end-all of human distinction. But think about it: how many animals do you know who beat rhythm for aesthetic enjoyment and social communion?

In this essay I reflect upon moments from musical experiences, primarily from blues music, to illustrate the place of the spontaneous gesture and ensemble improvisation in interaction, in and out of the music.

About the Authors

Pages 213-217
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Cover of Symbolic Interactionist Takes on Music
DOI
10.1108/S0163-2396201647
Publication date
2016-10-01
Book series
Studies in Symbolic Interaction
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78635-048-0
eISBN
978-1-78635-047-3
Book series ISSN
0163-2396