New on Early View: Bryce Merrill’s review of Aldrege’s “Singer-Songwriters and Musical Open-Mics” #sssi #music

Open-Mic nights have become again popular evening activity in many cities all over the world. Marcus Aldredge has written “a vivid and empathetic depiction of the social life of open mics”, argues Bruce Merrill in his review “Recommended if You Like: Scenes, Maker Culture, and Music Sociology” just published on Early View.


Merrill particularly praises that Aldredge manages to link his analysis to developments in contemporary culture, such as the “maker culture”. He recommends the book not only to interactionists but in particular also for “teaching cultural sociology, urban studies, and even urban planning or arts administration”.

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Sociology of Pop Music Course (Joe Kotarba) #sssi #music

I am teaching my online sociology of pop music course this semester, as I do every spring and summer. Our assignment this week has my students (all 76 of them) analyzing the Grammys through the three major sociological paradigms (consensus, conflict, and interactionism).  This assignment works very well, as it helps get the point across that we all have our own world views–paradigms are simply formal versions of them.  Please post any comments on any of this as well as your paradigmatic analysis, if interested.

Joe Kotarba

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Interview with Howard Becker #sssi

Interactionists interested in music might be interested in the interview with Howard Becker that has recently been published in Symbolic Interaction.

Becker interview

In the interview Becker talks about the development of his sociology and in particular about his sociology of art.

You also might be interested in Howard Becker’s most recent book “What about Mozart?, What about Murder?


If you are interested in reviewing the book for Symbolic Interaction, please get in touch with me:

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Joe Kotarba on ‘Enter Sandman’ #sssi #music

I just played Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” performed on Craig Ferguson’s. Late Late Show Thursday.  I missed the original broadcast–way past my bedtime.  But, the video I caught on was marvelous.

The song still gives me chills.  I have always thought of ES as a critical point in the history of metal:  meaningful and scary, not just loud and forceful. For better or worse, it was all over MTV.  It makes me feel like a 12 years old boy feel must feel: on the edge of adolescence with all its threatening yet exciting realities.  Was ES in 1992 the height or the beginning of the end of metal as we have come to know and love it.  Come on, SI bangers, talk to me…

Joe Kotarba        

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Comparative Study: Aging Rock ‘n’ Roll Fans in Sweden and the U.S. #sssi

Dr. Vessela Misheva, Professor of Sociology at Uppsala University in Sweden, and I are conducting a comparative international study of aging rock ‘n’ roll fans. This study is an extension of my original work on baby boomer rock ‘n’ roll fans, with one important additional consideration. During the European interactionist meetings in Uppsala in 2013, a Swedish scholar commented to me that my analysis does not apply to Swedish society because they do not have baby boomers the way that term is used in the States! The explanation, of course, is that Sweden did not witness a comparable demographic spike following World War II because they remained neutral during the war. Vessela and I are investigating all this through a series of interviews we are conducting with our graduate social psychology students. I am teaching a masters level seminar in social psychology—focusing on the sociologies of everyday life—and Vessela is teaching masters and doctoral level seminars. I have lectured several times to her students via Skype, and our classes have met once via Skype. We are now in the process of analyzing the data from semi-structured interviews with respondents over the age of 67. We will report back to the Blog soon, as we prepare to present our study at the European interactionist meetings in Salford in July. We hope to receive comments from Blog readers on our preliminary findings.

Joe Kotarba

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Quick note on the Blog #sssi

When we started this blog 18 months ago or so, the idea was to provide a site where SSSI could publicise and disseminate information about information in a more dynamic way than through a website. As you know the SSSI-blog runs alongside the blog for the journal and a SSSIMusic Blog with the latter one being the least active at the moment.  The readership of the blog varies from 2 a day to 100 a day. Readers primarily seem to be based in North America but depending on the topic we also have a good number of readers from Europe, including the UK, Germany, Slovenia and Russia, Australia and China.

On the SIJournal Blog, if time allows, I try to post a short piece of information about a new publication in the journal or on Early View every Tuesday. The readership is marginally higher than on the SSSI Blog; post like the one written by Gregory Thompson the other day accumulates about 50 views within 3 days. The geographical spread of posts on the SIJournal Blog is very similar to that on the SSSI Blog.

The SSSIMusic Blog is a curious one. We post very rarely there. Joe Kotarba has made some effort to get it going and together with Maggie Kusenbach we have tried to find somebody to run this blog – sadly unsuccessfully but we keep trying. It is noteworthy however that whenever a post is published here we immediately get about 20 people reading it and over the course of a week more than 100 people have at least looked at it.

In a world of viral marketing campaigns and YouTube clips receiving millions of views within hours the clicks and views of our blog appear tiny in comparison. Yet, considering the size of our Society the numbers are not that small. There also is the possibility that over time the number of readers will increase which hopefully would influence interest in the Society and the journal as well.


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Reminder: Studies in Symbolic Interaction Vol.42 – Revisiting Symbolic Interaction in Music Studies and New Interpretive Works

I want to reiterate the mention of volume 42 of Studies in Symbolic Interaction.  The four music articles make an important theoretical point: symbolic interaction is increasingly seen by ethnomusicologists as a powerful tool in crafting contemporary ethnomusicology.  This strikes me as a nice blending of ideas from two otherwise disparate disciplines.

Please take a glance at them when you can.  The Table of Content is here.

Joe Kotarba

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