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Konsten att hålla ihop: Om lärande och organisering i rockband
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5450-0348
2020 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
The art of keeping together : On learning and organizing in rock bands (English)
Abstract [en]

Rock bands are foundational for modern day music life. These small groups provide well-being and self-fulfillment to its members, as well as fuel for the cultural life and the increasingly highlighted creative industries. Rock bands, however, are particularly difficult to organize. Bands face a range of challenges in keeping together and developing as a group.

The aim of this doctoral thesis is to develop knowledge on rock band formation and development over time. Based in the discipline of education, the thesis mainly contributes to the fields of organization studies, social theories of learning, and music and cultural life research.

The thesis uses the theory of situated learning to explore rock band formation and development. The methodology is qualitative and ethnographic, and the research design builds on three studies: an interview study with three rock bands and two case studies. All five bands are Swedish and have found different degrees of success and popularity.

The thesis investigates band activities and courses of events, band members’ identities, and challenges faced. The findings indicate that a rock band’s activities shift between a production mode – i.e. highly productive times associated with public performances, record releases and marketing, and behind the scenes processes of creating, recording and planning – and a contrasting less active hibernation mode without bigger public projects or goals. The amount of time spent in production mode depends on the band’s degree of “membership” in the music industry. Moreover, a band member forms and actualizes identities of colleague, creator, entrepreneur, friend, hobbyist and professional, in differing combinations, situations and modes. Furthermore, the members’ most significant challenges relate to identity dilemmas.

Based on these findings, the thesis formulates a model for a rock band’s learning trajectory and argues that a band may develop as it approaches, or becomes a more central member in, the music industry. This development demands increased public success and organizational ability: the band members’ ability to form business-oriented practices, to participate uniformly in an overarching community of practice, and to be flexible as they must identify with, and ascribe meaning to, a variety of activities in different and sometimes contradictory ways.

The thesis concludes that the challenges of persistence as a rock band or similar group relates chiefly to group member difficulties in identifying with different activities and situations that are necessary to sustain and develop as a collective. Eventually, individual members tend to handle the experience of uncertainty and ambivalence by holding on to one singular identity, which may prevent group development, foster intra- and interpersonal tensions, and ultimately can lead to significant conflicts and/or a band’s breakup.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik, Stockholms universitet , 2020. , p. 104
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar från Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik ; 63
Keywords [en]
learning, organizing, identity, rock band, small group, organizational pedagogy, organizational ethnography
Keywords [sv]
lärande, organisering, identitet, rockband, liten grupp, organisationspedagogik, organisationsetnografi, musikliv, musikbransch, band, rock och pop, popband, rockgrupp, popgrupp, organisatorisk utveckling, identitetsdilemma, deltagarbana, multimedlemskap, praktik, praktikgemenskap, utmaningar, skeenden, formningsprocesser, produktionsläge, viloläge, organiseringslägen, medlemskap, sociala världar, situerat lärande, social lärteori, socialt lärperspektiv, kontextuellt lärperspektiv, organisationsstudier, organisationsforskning, pedagogik, musiklivsforskning, informellt lärande, gruppdynamik, smågrupper, kreativitet, entreprenörskap, småföretag, gruppidentitet, ambivalens, motsättningar, små organisationer, källarband, garageband, bandutveckling, musikindustri, lärprocesser, sammanhållning, kulturföretagande, karriär, musiker, artistkarriär, musikkarriär, professionell, proffs, hobby, hobbyutövare
National Category
Learning Pedagogy Business Administration Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Work Sciences
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-180999ISBN: 978-91-7911-096-3 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7911-097-0 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-180999DiVA, id: diva2:1426069
Public defence
2020-06-12, rum 2427 på Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik, Frescativägen 54 / Digital disputation via (Zoom), länk publiceras på institutionens webbplats, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Accepted.

Available from: 2020-05-18 Created: 2020-04-23 Last updated: 2020-05-25Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Becoming a rock band: The challenges of group identity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Becoming a rock band: The challenges of group identity
2017 (English)In: Journal of Popular Music Education, ISSN 2397-6721, Vol. 1, no 2, p. 165-182Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Rock bands feature increasingly in music education. They are essential parts of popular culture and are increasingly highlighted as entrepreneurial organizations in a global music industry. However, to develop and stay together as a band is a difficult task. This study aims to develop an understanding of the challenges of becoming a rock band, shedding new light on previously underexplored complexities of band life by considering the impact of group identities. The methodology entails storytelling and identity work, inspired by a biographical approach. Six explorative interviews with band members were conducted. The results suggest that productive activities form several kinds of work group identities, whereas low-activity periods threaten group identification. The article discusses how diversity of group identities promotes development while uniformity promotes stability. To cope with this paradox, this article suggests that band members ought to learn to develop multiple group identities and flexible ways of relating to one another.

Keywords
band life, education, group identity, identity formation, popular music, rock band, pop band, music life, music culture, identity, social identity theory, sociology of popular music, organizing music-making, ethnomusicology, music anthropology, bandliv, pedagogik, gruppidentitet, identitetsformande, populärmusik, rockband, popband, musikliv, musikkultur, identitet, identitetsskapande, social identitetsteori, musiksociologi, musikantropologi, musiketnologi
National Category
Educational Sciences Music
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-145551 (URN)10.1386/jpme.1.2.165_1 (DOI)
Available from: 2017-08-08 Created: 2017-08-08 Last updated: 2020-04-27Bibliographically approved
2. Learning to develop as a rock band: The contradiction between creativity and entrepreneurship
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning to develop as a rock band: The contradiction between creativity and entrepreneurship
2020 (English)In: Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, ISSN 2210-6561, E-ISSN 2210-657X, Vol. 25, article id 100379Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Creativity and entrepreneurship are increasingly celebrated features of today’s societal life. However, small creative groups face many challenges in developing as a productive unit together, and there is still little research on how they learn to handle these challenges. The aim of this article is to provide an understanding of learning within a rock band and its potential for assisting organizational development. It presents an ethnographically inspired case study and uses the theory of communities of practice to analyze the learning processes involved in a band’s organizing of its practices. The findings illustrate how band members learn to become a micro-organization at times of production, while, in time periods between production, they learn to become a loosely held together partial community of creators and entrepreneurs. The article argues that a rock band’s organizational development relates to its members’ ability to handle a seldom highlighted contradiction between creativity and entrepreneurship. It concludes that the group’s members may develop organizationally by learning to identify with and organize for creativity and entrepreneurship in so-called multi-memberships. It also suggests that a rock band not always develops and its multi-membership abilities may as well decrease because of personal, line-up or commercial issues.

Keywords
learning, organizational development, rock band, creativity, entrepreneurship, contradiction
National Category
Pedagogy Music
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-180991 (URN)10.1016/j.lcsi.2020.100379 (DOI)
Available from: 2020-04-22 Created: 2020-04-22 Last updated: 2020-05-27Bibliographically approved
3. The ambivalence of becoming a small business: Learning processes within an aspiring rock band
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The ambivalence of becoming a small business: Learning processes within an aspiring rock band
2020 (English)In: Popular Music, ISSN 0261-1430, E-ISSN 1474-0095Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

Rock musicians’ careers are dependent on their bands’ micro-organisational development. However, the many challenges a band must face to endure and progress together seem somewhat underemphasised in popular music studies. This article therefore aims to provide an understanding of aspiring rock musicians’ learning processes in becoming a small business and focusing the identities they learn through participation in communities of practice. The findings from a yearlong ethnographic study illustrate how band members form contradictory identities. The article argues that members, who learn to become both professionals and hobbyists, and live with the resulting ambivalence, may develop a readiness to tackle some of their challenges, which include burnout, loss of motivation and interpersonal conflicts. In conclusion, the article problematises how categorisations of small creative groups as either professional or hobbyist neglect how their members may, and perhaps need to, contextualise the activities differently in various situations and at certain times.

Keywords
rock band, learning, identity, small business, ambivalence, rockband, lärande, identitet, småföretag, ambivalens
National Category
Pedagogy Music
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-180995 (URN)
Available from: 2020-04-23 Created: 2020-04-23 Last updated: 2020-04-27

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