Destined for Greatness: Passions, Dreams, and Aspirations in a College Music Town



Pursuing the dream of a musical vocation-particularly in rock music-is typically regarded as an adolescent pipedream. Music is marked as an appropriate leisure activity, but one that should be discarded upon entering adulthood. How then do many men and women aspire to forge careers in music upon entering adulthood? In Destined for Greatness, sociologist Michael Ramirez examines the lives of forty-eight independent rock musicians who seek out such non-normative choices in a college town renowned for its music scene. He explores the rich life course trajectories of women and men to explore the extent to which pathways are structured to allow some, but not all, individuals to fashion careers in music worlds. Ramirez suggests a more nuanced understanding of factors that enable the pursuit of musical livelihoods well into adulthood.
... From the early and seminal works of Faulkner (1971), Bennett (2017Bennett ( [1980), Finnegan (2007Finnegan ( [1989) and Cohen (1991) onwards, how musicians work and how their labour is defined and valued has been an area of academic focus. Since the turn of the century there has been an increasing emphasis on musicians' creative labour (Banks, 2010;Gable, 2018;Hesmondhalgh and Baker, 2011;O'Sullivan, 2016;Stahl, 2013;Thompson, 2019;Ramirez, 2018). Important debates have emerged as to whether or not musicians actually work (Frith, 2016) and the expanding expectations of what music makers have to do (Hracs, 2012;Taylor, 2016), as well as various attempts to define and quantify their labour (Bataille and de Brabandère, 2019;Umney and Kretsos, 2014;Umney, 2016). ...
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This article reports on the results of an online survey of 175 music makers from the Liverpool City Region (LCR) undertaken in late summer 2020, five months into the UK's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time restrictions eased from a full 'stay at home' lockdown, however restrictions remained in place which prevented live music performances or nightclub events taking place. The following analysis of quantitative and qualitative data responses focused on five key areas in which local musicians were impacted: the financial and social effects arising from the curtailment of live performance; how musicians engaged with live streaming; how being 'locked down' affected creativity when unable to physically collaborate with other musicians; the ways in which musicians maintain online engagement; and the effectiveness of available economic support. The data findings demonstrate that the unparalleled and abrupt cessation of an entire cultural sector's activities had a profound impact on musicians in the LCR. We demonstrate how internet services did, to some extent, provide a form of respite, the study concludes by emphasising the vital importance of being in-the-room-together for virtually all musical activities. Without this sociability, music's inherent social and economic value is severely curtailed.
The symbolic interactionist tradition can contribute to advancing sociological studies of cognition by setting dual process models on more solid ground. I draw on Blumer's epistemological statements and the interactionist tradition more broadly to consider how dual process models of cognition could be applied to naturally occurring situations. I suggest that attending to the ways the past and the future are handled and modified within social interaction provides a usable inroad for the sociology of cognition to engage with situational analysis. I identify “resonance” and “iterative reprocessing” as concepts that are suitable to this end.