The production and consumption of the commodity community: Playing, working and making it in the local music scene
AuthorBurkhardt, Paul Edward
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractEmploying methodologies and theoretical approaches from the fields of cultural studies, cultural anthropology, community studies, folkloristics, and critical political economics of communication, this study explores the production and consumption of commodities, performances and community within local southern Arizona popular music scenes in the context of the increasingly global media industries. This participant-observer ethnography engages my everyday life experiences as a musician, recording engineer and producer with contemporary academic debates about meaning, value and postmodernism. Scholars taking extreme positions in these debates often apply concepts from semiotics to the practices of production and consumption of cultural commodities in order to understand the sociological, economic and cultural transformations of late modernity. While these linguistic metaphors illuminate the potentially resistant play of signs within the articulations of these subcultural groups, the pragmatism of symbolic interactionism focuses much-needed attention on certain social aspects of rituals of consumption at the risk of obfuscating the power of the transnational media industries in organizing, promoting and mass-distributing such discourses. Indeed, large-scale political economic inquiry grounded in a realist epistemology shows that the work of audience consumption is organized not only to profit the media, marketing and advertising corporations, but also to reproduce capitalist social relations and ideology. My fieldwork suggests a synthesis of the elements of these debates. The new terminology and concepts defined and conceptualized in this dissertation as "self-production" and "self-sampling" within the "commodity community" allow analysis of the flexible organization of such performative consumption as productive of social relations, community, identity and meaning. Indeed, the feelings of meaningful community belonging are a large share of what one buys in such leisure scenes. Further, these social products are increasingly measured, sampled and packaged as cybernetic commodities for exchange both through traditional market channels and via the new "interactive" media technologies. I conclude by turning these abstract models and metaphors to a critique of the academic "commodity community" of postmodern cultural studies.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies