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English Folk Singing and the Construction of Community

Hield, Fay (2010) English Folk Singing and the Construction of Community. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis presents the ways contemporary English folk singers construct and enact community though their musical participation. To complement my existing knowledge from a 30 year long participation in folk singing, I use a combined approach of sociological methods including participant observation, diary, interview and focus group to obtain naturally occurring and elicited data. This information was collected following an adaptation of the Grounded Theory method and coded using the Atlas.ti programme. This process established various themes pertaining to the experience of community within folk singing environments arranged here in four chapters: the development of a folk repertoire and conceptions of tradition, the physical and temporal structures of folk events, the social environment, and the ways the sounds of folk singing are produced. A variety of theoretical approaches to the concept of ‘community’ are applied to these phenomena, including imagined community, symbolic community, moral community, communities of practice, communitas and the role of individualism within the group. This research shows that, although ‘community’ is not a term routinely applied by folk singers to their activities, interpretations of the term are evident in their behaviours. I have found the boundary of community within this context to be a fluid concept and the core of community to be based on individual perception. The ideological, organisational and social environments found in folk singing events suggest the capacity for open access and inclusivity, however, a relatively stable group of practitioners has developed and the resulting tacit behavioural norms creates a considerable barrier to participation for newcomers. Attaining the knowledge to fully engage, however, provides participants with a heightened sense of belonging and community is strongly felt precisely because it is difficult to achieve.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Folk Singing Community Leisure Musical participation
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Music (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr Fay Hield
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2011 10:40
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2013 15:19
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1544

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