Eileen Hogan, Music-making and Well-being: Identity, place and cultural policy (PhD, University of Liverpool, 2015)

These details defined Tue Sep 11 15:31:37 2018  edit
 Author:  Hogan, Eileen 
 Title:  Music-making and Well-being: Identity, place and cultural policy 
 Degree, institution:  PhD, University of Liverpool 
 Status, year:  accepted, 2015 (July 2015) 
 Volumes, pp., etc.:  1 (312), 80,000 words 
 Supervisor(s):  Professor Sara Cohen; Dr Hae-kyung Um 
 Repository:  University of Liverpool 
 General specialism:  Other 
 Content, timeframe:  2010-2013 
 Content, key terms:  Concepts:
popular music-making, well-being, identity, cultural policy
Cork, Ireland

Questions about individual and collective well-being are central to cultural policy discourses, within which the potential of ‘creativity’ in shaping more dynamic, inclusive societies and more positive ways of being is increasingly celebrated. This thesis considers such issues by focusing on the social significance of popular music-making within one small city’s music scene. Although sociological literature on local music scenes represents a significant body of work, few studies have focused explicitly on the concept of well-being, which is more often presented as a tacit and uninterrogated assumption. By addressing this gap in knowledge the thesis contributes to the literature not only on popular music scenes but on music-making as creative labour, and on the sociology of cultural policy.

The main aims of the thesis are to examine the complex interrelationship of music-making and well-being, identity and place, and to consider the theoretical and policy implications that arise from such a confluence. Its arguments are informed by extensive ethnographic research conducted in Cork city, Ireland, between 2010 and 2013. The fieldwork period coincided with socio-economic upheaval and a shift towards a ‘new’ politics of austerity shaped by the international economic crisis and the Irish recession, a context that adds emotional, practical and political weight to the central themes of the research.

The analysis and interpretation of the ethnographic data are informed by Bourdieu’s conceptual toolkit, drawing particularly on his metaphor of ‘the game’ to elucidate the creative labour-oriented and ludic dimensions of everyday music-making practices. The thesis evidences that local music producers’ practices are reward-oriented, but are shaped by the research subjects’ emotional investments in the local, their sense of place, and their sense of community, and are not therefore entirely grounded in self-interest. It argues that the music-making community is sustained through values of solidarity, interdependence and mutual support, producing a system of reciprocity that can be productively defined as a ‘mixed economy of favours’. It also highlights the importance of collaborative partnerships within the local music scene, which constitute a ‘mixed economy of music-making’, in upholding the autotelic and social value of music-making (music-for-music’s-sake, music-for-the-community, and music-for-the-city).

The understanding of the interrelationship of music-making and well-being, identity and place advanced in this research holds significant implications for cultural policy. It offers persuasive evidence for developing future policies that move beyond neoliberal emphases on popular music-as-product. It posits, instead, a revaluation of popular music-as-process and its significance to the individual and collective well-being of present and future citizens.