Accepted Paper:

Rock music as an epistemic culture: Transferring STS-tools to study gendered power asymetries in a musical field  


Martin Winter (Technische Universit├Ąt Darmstadt)

Paper long abstract:

There is a long ongoing debate on how theories and methodologies from Science and Technology Studies can be applied to questions of cultural sociology, such as researching music and music scenes. Several scholars, such as Antoine Hennion and Tia DeNora, have succesfully shown how fruitful STS-approaches can be to study musical fields. However, the potential of gender sociological approaches within STS to analyse power asymmetries in musical fields is not yet developed. The mentioned music sociological approaches, as well as others, neglect or underestimate the role of gendered and other forms of inequalities. On the other side, those music sociological approaches that deal with power relations do not cover and thus undervalue the role of music and sound, and technological artefacts in its use.

On the basis of focused ethnography and group discussions in the Punk Rock and DIY subculture in Graz, Austria, I will show how STS approaches can be applied to study musical fields. Musical genres can be seen as a concept of knowledge and distinguished by constant processes of boundary work. In musicking practices, gendered subjects are co-constructed with music on the basis of symbolic references. In this case, a progressive anti-hegemonic masculinity clashes with aspects of the hegemonic rock-star-masculinity. This unfolds in the use of musical instruments and the description of sound.

Transferring the concept of epistemic cultures to the field of music, it can be shown how producing and applying musical knowledge are inextricably interwoven with gendered asymmetries.

Panel J1
Situating gendered solidarities in epistemic cultures of science, technology, and other areas of academic practice