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Claiming Space: Discourses on Gender, Popular Music, and Social Change


Cecilia Björck


Claiming Space: Discourses on Gender, Popular Music, and Social Change

Att ta plats: Diskurser om genus, populärmusik och social förändring

Dissertation in Music Education, 2011.


This compilation (portfolio) thesis explores how language is used in the context of gender-equity music initiatives to construct ideas about gender, popular music, and social change. More specifically, it examines the use of spatial metaphors and concepts revolving round the idea that girls and women need to “claim space” to participate in popular music practices.

The empirical material consists of recorded round-table discussions with staff and participants from four different initiatives in Sweden, all with the explicit aim to increase the number of girls and women involved in popular music production and performance. They include a time-limited project by a youth organization, a grass-roots network for young musicians, an adult education course, and a rock music camp for girls. A Foucault-inspired discourse analysis method in six stages was used to examine the data in terms of discursive constructions, discourses, action orientation, positionings, practice, and subjectivity.

The results are organized in four themes—Sound, Body, Territory, and Room—and are discussed in relation to the concepts of performativity (Judith Butler), feminine body spatiality (Iris Marion Young), and gaze (Michel Foucault and others). The idea of “claiming space” is found to be involved in two dialectics. The first dialectic is formed by space-claiming understood as on the one hand extrovert self-promotion to be seen and heard, and on the other hand, as introvert focus on the musical craft. A second dialectic is formed by an ongoing struggle between empowerment and objectification, i.e., between being an acting subject and being the object of a disciplining gaze.

This is thesis no 22 in the ArtMonitor dissertation series.

ISBN: 978-91-978477-1-1


This dissertation is published in English with a Swedish summary.

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The disseration is e-published

The dissertation is e-published in GUPEA (Göteborgs universitets publikationer - Elektroniskt Arkiv). Download the dissertation

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