Finding the female fan: A feminist ethnography of popular music in Sheffield.

ROBSON, Josephine E. (2006). Finding the female fan: A feminist ethnography of popular music in Sheffield. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

Using the female fan as a contradictory metaphor of access and exclusion, this thesis investigates how popular music is used within and forms meaning for women and girls' lives. Relations between music makers and listeners are typically positioned to reinforce difference and inequality, and the image of 'hysterical' female fans screaming at boybands and rock groups is a familiar one. Fandom is thus feminised, sexualised and frequently demonised: rarely is it recognised as the motivating factor for making music.This is the starting point for a longitudinal feminist ethnography that explores the ways in which gender inequalities are constructed and contested through everyday music use. Drawing on social constructionist perspectives of gender as a 'relational category' (Cohen, 2001) and 'situated doing' (West and Zimmerman, 1991), I examine how gendered musical practices and relationships are shaped through three research themes: meanings of fandom, 'making it' and place. These themes are located in a particular spatial, cultural and temporal (1996-2006) context: the live rock and pop scene/s in the city of Sheffield, England. Building on the ethnographic work of Finnegan (1989; 1997) and Cohen (1991; 1997; 2001), I identify a range of particular and 'extra-local' barriers women face, from masculinist narratives of 'Sheffieldness' to the 'structural exclusion' from male dominated 'pathways', spaces and places. Strategies which challenge exclusionary practices are detailed within three ethnographic case studies, selected to reflect the diversity of genre, gender, generation, social class and success that I have found within Sheffield's music scene/s.Two case studies of mixed-gender 'amateur' bands and their 'interpretive community' of 'fans' explore the shifting affective alliances and interpretations generated through significant cultural events I call bandmarks: from the Radio One John Peel session to record company showcase. The third case study investigates the dialectical relationship between 'mainstream' success and gendered access, through analysing Pulp's journey along the 'continuum of success' (Kirschner, 1998). All three case studies shed light on the flexible meanings of fandom, 'making it', scene and place, demonstrating how 'mechanisms of exclusion' (Coates, 1997) and access are negotiated through a complex interplay of spatial, aesthetic, ideological and industrial conditions, which variably serve to construct and constrain women's musical practice within - and beyond - the local.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2006.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:22
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2018 17:22
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/20602

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