Year of Publication

2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Edward Morris

Second Advisor

Dr. Claire Renzetti

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore emerging issues surrounding gendered fear, threat, and violence perpetration at music festivals – particularly events that feature a synthesis of jam band and electronic dance music acts – a genre termed jamtronica by its fans. Though gendered violence perpetration and prevention have been widely studied within other party-oriented settings (i.e., sexual violence perpetration on college campuses), very little research exists to address how wider disparities of gender and sexuality permeate a community whose members frequently claim the scene’s immunity from external inequalities.

In this three-year multi-sited ethnography, I incorporate participant observations, group and individual interviews, and textual analyses to progressively layer investigations into: 1) festival-goers’ gender-bifurcated perceptions of the problems they face within the event arena; 2) how institutional and interactional inequalities fuel gender-sexual expectations that exacerbate the risks with which festival-going women’s contend; and, 3) how jamtronica’s “libertarian and libertine” codes complicate women’s negotiations of (sub)cultural agency, expression, and safety. Findings derived across fourteen sites, interviews with 179 festival participants, and countless material texts suggest that men and women do perceive festival “problems” in very different ways – subsequently leading women to calculatedly navigate festival terrains, interactions, and self-presentations in ways that festival-going men seldom must. Protected by scene norms that paradoxically elevate personal autonomy and group integration, festival-going men’s homosocial displays of masculinity (through pranks, drinking and drug use, and even sexual predation) often goes unchallenged – or, is seemingly even encouraged.

In an environment that both scholars and study participants claim to eclipse mainstream inequalities of gender and sexuality, a closer look reveals the multiplex ways that festival-going women risk their physical, social, and sexual well-beings in order to pursue the emancipatory promises that jamtronica music festival community discourses purport. For this understudied, yet rapidly growing, subcultural scene, this study offers conceptual and analytical foundations to event-specific violence prevention programming, as well as gender and sexuality-centric initiatives paramount to ever-diversifying jamtronica music festival communities.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2018.332

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