Theories of participation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Ethnomusicologists have long been fascinated by the idea of participation and the way that participatory music making draws individuals together into contingent solidarities. This chapter begins with a critical examination of the history of the notion of participation as it has been developed in philosophy, anthropology, and sociology, as well as in a variety of forms of twentieth-century political and artistic practice. Ethnomusicologists have been central in advancing theories of participation, and the chapter continues by exploring some of the work done in this area, including the contributions of Charles Keil, Steven Feld, and Thomas Turino. Keil and Feld’s theories of “groove, " Christopher Small’s idea of “musicking, " Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s notion of “flow, " and the participatory dimensions of listening are all examined. The chapter concludes by discussing debates about the politics of performance, which often hinge on how to characterize participatory unity: as either fascistic or radically democratic, as childishly regressive or politically progressive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTheory for Ethnomusicology
Subtitle of host publicationHistories, Conversations, Insights
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781315408576
ISBN (Print)9781138222137
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Taylor & Francis.


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