The music festival as an arena for learning Festspel i Pite Älvdal and matters of identity
Sammanfattning: The aim of the present study was to explore the music festival Festspel i Pite Älvdal as a source of informal learning with implications for the identity of the audiences and the host communities. The main research question focussed on how the Festspel i Pite Älvdal affected the development of the audience's musical identity and influenced their relation to their local community. The research sub-questions were concerned with how the festival 1) affected the audience's construction of musical self-narratives; 2) contributed to the audience's development and maintenance of parallel musical identities; and 3) contributed to the development of local identity in the festival's host-municipalities. The study was grounded in earlier festival research as well as music educational research concerning informal arenas for learning. The study's theoretical framework was built on theories of modernity, which make it possible to put into perspective identity development in contemporary societies. The sociology of music provided theoretical perspectives on the close connection between music and identity. Also, theories of situated learning were employed as a basis for the discussion of how learning might come through audiences' peripheral participation in the festival community of practice. This research was designed as a case study, combining observations of festival events, surveys of members of the festival audience and interviews with survey participants and official representatives of the festival's host-municipalities. Due to its theoretical points of departure, the study came to carry strong features of narrative research. The study's findings showed that the festival affected construction of musical self-narratives by delivering contextual frames in which experiences, understood as material for construction of such narratives, were developed. Despite the festival offering good preconditions for maintenance and development of parallel musical identities, the majority of the audience chose maintenance, and the festival worked as a device for identity development only for those few who preferred to use it that way. The festival contributed to development of local identity by telling the audiences the stories of who they were, by deepening, re-telling and prolonging pre-existing municipality narratives. In discussing the study's findings, four identity dimensions of music festivals were brought to the fore: On the individual level, a music festival may function as an arena for lifestyle choices as well as a basis for individuals' self-regulatory strategies in connection with music. On the municipal level, the festival may be an outward manifestation of community identity and an occasion for reinforcement of social and cultural identity. The audiences' festival-related learning can be expressed in terms of learning music, learning about music and learning via music. Viewed in relation to theories of musical knowledge, it became evident that the total learning outcome was similar to expected outcome from other informal as well as formal music educational settings.
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