Musicians' worlds: Music-making as a collaborative activity

Peter J. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The term "popular music" encompasses a huge range and variety of styles. This article reasons that the adoption of a sociological approach, and in particular Becker's "art worlds" perspective, brings some analytic clarity and methodological rigor to studies of musicians' work in an otherwise diverse array of styles and contexts. An empirical focus on "musicians' worlds" can produce not only systematic descriptions of their organizational features but, by examining occupational problems and responses to them, can generate explanations of salient aspects of musicians' cultures. These points are developed in a brief consideration of three studies of musicians active in different styles, times, and places. It is concluded that, despite their apparent contrasts, an art worlds perspective can reveal the "generic social processes" underlying musicians' practices in these diverse settings. © 2006 by the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-107
Number of pages12
JournalSymbolic Interaction
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


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