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A Critical Ethnography Through Poetic Representations of Social Justice Issues Biomedical Science

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Abstract

The main purpose of this study is to examine how songs, lyrics, and poetry express emotional reactions to inequity of people with different backgrounds, SES, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, power differentials, lack of power, lifestyle choices, and physical/emotional bullying. This study examined how songs, lyrics, and poetry expressed emotions of inequity with three primary data collection sources: a. Poetry, spoken word, or lyrics; b. Lyric/poetry analysis; and c. Interviews. Findings were divided into three themes and numerous sub-themes. The three main themes were: Racial Issues in the San Luis Valley, Systemic Issues in the San Luis Valley, and the Betterment of Adams State University. Findings demonstrate the importance of having dialogue on these important issues impacting society today. These findings have implications on how researchers and institutions can start and continue important conversations on issues of inequity.
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Research Article
A Critical Ethnography Through Poetic
Representations of Social Justice Issues
Jeremy T Yeats1*, Robert Demski2, Ben Paden2, Michael Rhoads3 and Caly Setiawan4
1West Virginia University, USA
2Adams State University, USA
3Metropolitan State University of Denver, USA
4Yogyakarta State University, Indonesia
Quick Response Code: Address for correspondence: Jeremy T Yeats, College of Physical Activity and Sport
Sciences, West Virginia University, USA
Received: October 15, 2019 Published: October 25, 2019
How to cite this article: Jeremy T Y, Robert D, Ben P, Michael R, Caly S. A Critical
Ethnography rough Poetic Representations of Social Justice Issues. 2019 - 1(1) OAJBS.
ID.000110.
2019 Open Access Journal of Biomedical Science 37 Open Acc J Bio Sci. October - 1(1): 37-46
Research Article Open Access Journal of
Biomedical Science
Abstract
The main purpose of this study is to examine how songs, lyrics, and poetry express emotional reactions to inequity
of people with different backgrounds, SES, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, power differentials, lack of
power, lifestyle choices, and physical/emotional bullying. This study examined how songs, lyrics, and poetry expressed
emotions of inequity with three primary data collection sources:
a. Poetry, spoken word, or lyrics;
b. Lyric/poetry analysis; and
c. Interviews. Findings were divided into three themes and numerous sub-themes.
The three main themes were: Racial Issues in the San Luis Valley, Systemic Issues in the San Luis Valley, and the
Betterment of Adams State University. Findings demonstrate the importance of having dialogue on these important
   
continue important conversations on issues of inequity.
Keywords: Culturally responsive teaching; Social justice; Inclusive excellence; Inequity; Research in recording studio
INTRODUCTION
A critical ethnography through poetic representations
of inequity
People’s reactions to various types of social inequity can
take many different forms. Mass movements, political actions,
disengagement, and the arts are but a few channels of response.
The reactions to inequity can be collective or personal. Personal
responses can sometimes instigate collective efforts. The focus of
this research was to analyze the individual efforts of musicians and
poets in their struggle with personal experiences of social inequity

songs, lyrics, and spoken word the performer’s expressed reactions
to various types of social inequity, whether the expressions are
based on racism, sexism, socio-economic status, lifestyle choices,
or simply differences in power based on status or force of will.
Thompson et al. [1] have reported that the recording studio is an
unusual location to conduct ethnographic work. Due to a dearth
of ethnographic research located in recording studios, we concur.
Jeremy T Yeats
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Although the recording studio can present challenges not found in
other locations, the studio can foster creativity and collaboration.
Although it may be somewhat atypical to do critical ethnography
in the arts, there have been some precedents. For example, Hanauer
[2] analyzed the poetry of a veteran of the 2003 Iraq war. This critical
poetic ethnography revealed the psychological challenges faced
by the soldier as he tried to make sense of the incomprehensibly
tragic events he experienced. The poetic narrative revealed the
complexities of war, which are seldom exposed in mainstream
media constructions. Another poetic ethnography was conducted
by Fitzpatrick [3], who proposes that poetry provides a rich,
emotive, and aesthetically pleasing channel of communication.
This research assessed the poetry of marginalized New Zealand
students. Fitzpatrick [3] reposts that the deeply personal nature of
poetry can bring together the political and the personal.
With a similar use of poetry, Travis Heath has conducted
court-mandated therapy with inner city youth [4]. Heath’s therapy
connects with clients in a manner that many other approaches are
unable to do so. He asks about his client’s musical preferences and
learns about their lives by having them write and share rap lyrics.
Heath describes how rap can “serve as a voice for the voiceless”.
In one conversation, a client-Ray states “It’s like when I rhyme. I
spit truth from my soul.” This therapeutic approach is an exemplary
case of music addressing inequality and oppression [4].
In addition to poetry, drama has also been in the sights of
ethnographic eyes. For example, Dennis [5] in her long-term project
analyzes data from the Theater of the Oppressed. The Theater of the
Oppressed was created by Augusto Boal in Brazil in the 1960’s. This
type of theater draws in the audience to explore and transform their
own lives. This approach to theater promotes social and political
change. Dennis in conjunction with teachers at a Midwestern high
school used the Theater of the Oppressed to respond to the bullying
behaviors of students toward English language learners. She warns
researchers that the boundary between data collection and data
analysis can be blurred in this context, creating special challenges.
Finally, music has not only drawn the attention of ethnographers,
but cognitive scientists as well. To Cross [6], the neuroscience of
music has shed light on the neural processing involved in the
learning, processing, and emotional responses to music. Such
research explores the effects of pitch, musical structure, loudness,
timber, and the emotional potency of music. Per Cross, this work
needs to be expanded by exploring the broader social and cultural
functions of music. He proposes that music can be more than just
complex patterns of sound. Music can be a form of social practices
that are participatory and communicative. Music can play a role in
maintaining social order and social cohesion or can be instrumental
in social change. Music can be understood as a form of cognitive
    
can be an instigator of human interaction and transformation [6].
For example, the freedom songs of the African anti-apartheid and
the U. S. civil rights movement played an important role in the
psychological and emotional tenor of those movements [7]. Such
songs helped to create, communicate, and maintain the collective
identities needed to pursue long-term social struggle. In such
circumstance’s music, can be motivational, inspirational and
arouse emotional reactions. Music can channel energy and help
to give voice to the marginalized. Finally, Cohen [8] follows in this
tradition of advocating the potential social importance of music
in expressing cultural meanings, values, and ideas. She proposes
that social anthropologists should shift their focus of attention
on to armature or grass-roots musicians instead of commercially
successful performers, who have been vetted by corporate media
conglomerates. In this way, the average person’s concerns can be
explored.
This research adds to the literature exploring the role that
music and poetry can play in expressing the social concerns of
the average person. These expressions convey important cultural
understanding based on the lived experiences of amateur musicians
and poets. The focus of this study is to explore how the performers
recognize, understand, and react to various social inequalities. In
the tradition of critical ethnography, the intention of this study is
to analyze these expressions, communicate these expressions, and
hopefully to play a role in overcoming the negative effects of various
social inequities. The recording studio central to this research was
     
is to provide a “student-centered environment for Hispanic and
low-income students to address issues of access, student success,
and student retention [9].” Another relevant goal is to “improve
Hispanic and low-income student access to technology.” Included in
these goals is the facilitation of cultural learning, the promotion of
active learning pedagogical strategies, the improvement of access to
audio/visual recording technology, and the enhancement of faculty
development regarding having opportunities to include recording
as an instructional mode.
Purposes
The purpose of this study was twofold:
1. To examine how songs, lyrics, and poetry express emotional
reactions to inequity of people with different backgrounds, SES,
race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, power differentials, lack
of power, lifestyle choices, and physical/emotional bullying (these
inequity issues will simply be labelled “inequity issues” in the rest
of this paper);
2. To examine people’s lived experiences in the San Luis Valley
in order to understand their expression of emotional reactions to
inequities.
Research questions
Research Question 1: How do songs, lyrics, and poetry express
emotional reactions to inequity issues?
Research Question 2: How do the people’s lived experiences in
the San Luis Valley impact their expression of emotional reactions
to inequities?
METHODS
To examine how songs, lyrics, and poetry express emotional
reactions to inequity issues, a qualitative approach was used. The
qualitative research paradigm requires a careful and thorough
description of the methodology used to collect and analyze the
data. It also requires reporting the basic underlying philosophical
research assumptions [10,11]. Crotty suggests that researchers
describe four conceptual elements of their research framework.
These elements are the research epistemology stance, the
theoretical perspective, the general methodology used, and the

This research assumes a constructivist epistemological stance.
Constructivism focuses on the meaning created in the individual’s
mind [11]. For this research, the constructed meaning of the lived
2019 Open Access Journal of Biomedical Science Open Acc J Bio Sci. October - 1(1): 37-46
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experience of inequity is revealed through the participant’s song
        
work, and participant interviews conducted by the researchers.
Numerous scholars have previously addressed the idea of
analyzing qualitative data using poetic representations [12-16].
        
[16]. Research poetry allows one to express the inexpressible
[13]. As Furman notes, “imagistic language allows the reader to
enter a work and develop a personal relationship with it.” Jeremy’s
representation of participant’s data follows this lineage yet uses the
medium of music as the avenue for poetic representation.
The interpretivist approach is used as the theoretical perspective
of the research. According to Crotty, this perspective focuses on the
personal interpretations of experienced oppression and inequity.
The research method was designed to evoke the experiences,
emotions, reactions, beliefs, and values of the participants. The
ethnographic approach was the general methodology used in
this research. Crotty reports that ethnography focuses on the
        
and interviews are assumed to provide a window into the subset
        
method has three elements: participants and research context, data
collection procedures, and data analysis procedures [11]. These are
described below.
Participants and context
        
are reported in this study. The participant data sets were from 5
students, 6 employees, 4 faculty, and 4 community members of
Alamosa, Colorado and Adams State University. All participants were
18 years of age or older. Some participants were local community
members. After IRB approval, the participants were obtained
through researcher email and word of mouth, and recruitment
at local live music scenes. The lead researcher would use musical
performances as an opportunity for sampling and spreading the
word about this research project. The participants were asked if
they had poetry, spoken word, or songs that explored inequity and
oppression. Unless a separate release form was signed, pseudonyms
were used to protect the anonymity of the participants. Purposeful
and snowball sampling was used to identify bands and participants
that had relevant material for this study. Upon completion of the
informed consent and release documents, performances were
recorded, mixed, mastered, and produced. The location of the
recordings and interviews was the campus music department
recording studio (Ed Richmond Studio). Each interview took from
20 to 110 minutes.
Data collection procedures
One of the goals of qualitative research is to share lived
experiences. Sparkes [17] has argued that poetic representations
may be better at revealing lived experiences compared to
other texts. For example, Shapiro [18] has analyzed poetry and
      
Blumenfeld-Jones [19] has suggested a method of triangulation to
assure the trustworthiness, accuracy, consistency, and plausibility of
qualitative research. Triangulation involves exploring the research
question from a variety of angles. Accordingly, this study explored
three different types of sources. Our participants wrote poetry or
song lyrics, made recordings of recited poetry or songs, explained
        
by one of the researchers. Aside from convenient and snowball
sampling, the lead researcher could gather more participants at
live musical shows, as he announced the project and offered free
recording to the community.
Trustworthiness: Qualitative research is usually assessed in
terms of trustworthiness, accuracy, consistency and plausibility
[19]. One method-triangulation addressed trustworthiness
criteria by examining the research question from a variety of
angles using different data collection tools. The data collection
techniques employed in this study are active learning strategies,
which are critical to culturally responsive pedagogical techniques.
The techniques used in this study could and should be used by
teachers in classrooms to explore diversity. The future is to train
professors at our university to be able to use a Raging Studios type
of assignment in their classrooms, which in turn will turn into a
sampling technique for the continued research. Accordingly, this
study examined how songs, lyrics, and poetry expressed emotion
on inequity with three primary data collection sources:
a. Poetry, spoken word, or lyrics;
b. Lyric or poetry analysis; and
c. Interviews.
Poetry, spoken word or lyrics: Recently, qualitative research
has been using poetry and autobiographical poetry as data in
research [18]. One of the goals of qualitative research is to share
lived experiences. It has been argued that poetic representations
are better at attaining “this goal than other forms of writing” [17].
Lyric/poetry analysis: A lyric or poetic analysis was completed
by each participant to provide additional perspective and gain
deeper insight into the underlying meaning of participants’ song
creation. For the analysis, participants were asked to give much more
       
were given a lyric analysis example to follow. The example analysis
showed how they could break down their analysis by stanzas.
Interviews: To gain understanding of the underlying structures
of an individual’s meaning, the ethnographical interview was used.
This approach is a primary method of data collection [20]. Each
interview lasted between 20 and 110 minutes. The purpose of the
interviews was to have the performer:
i. Describe how songs, lyrics, and poetry express emotional
reactions to inequity issues;
ii. Describe people’s lived experiences in the San Luis Valley to
understand their expression of emotional reactions to inequities.
Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim
(with exception of pseudonyms to provide anonymity for the
performers that did not sign the release form).
Data analysis procedures
The information collected in this study was analyzed using two
distinct yet overlapping processes commonly utilized in grounded
theory. These analytical techniques are open coding and axial coding

categories, and developing categories in terms of the information’s
properties and dimensions. Axial coding involves determining and

coding stage. Along with this, Marshall et al. [22] suggest a process
of testing emergent hypotheses. This entails searching the data
for negative instances of patterns. In turn, the researcher seeks
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credibility in the data by being skeptical and seeking alternative
explanations or perspectives.

and axial coding meaning units within each participant’s data
set. To increase the reliability and validity of the analysis process,
       
participant’s data set. Three researchers were used to minimize
bias and maximize trustworthiness. This collaborative process,
involving the discussion of interpretations and meaning units,
revealed a substantial degree of inter-reader reliability, as well
 
researcher. Once each data set was analyzed, the next step was to
identify common categories and themes across the 19 participant’s
materials.
Findings
  
framework for coding an ethnography. His recommendations are
to create a cultural portrait of a culture-sharing group. In our case,
the San Luis Valley was our culture-sharing group. To create this
cultural portrait, the template dictates that researchers must code
by including: a theoretical lens, descriptions of the culture, analysis
     
written in alignment with this coding structure.
Theoretical lens
This research was conducted through a constructivist
epistemological stance. Constructivism focuses on the meaning
constructed in the individual’s mind through experience [11].
This meaning or knowledge is actively constructed through the
individual’s experience and interactions with the surrounding
          
experiences. Through this study, the constructed meaning of the
lived experience of inequity is revealed through the participant’s
song lyrics, poetry, or spoken word and the participant’s analytical

by the researchers. This active learning constructive process of data
collection created more meaning for the participants.
The interpretivist approach was used as the theoretical
perspective throughout this project. Based on qualitative
analysis developed by Crotty [11], this perspective focuses on the
personal interpretations of experienced oppression and inequity.
The research method was designed to evoke the experiences,
emotions, reactions, beliefs, and values of the participants. Take
for instance Jerusalem, who wrote a song about his experience
in a gay partnership where he and his partner had to keep their
relationship a secret because his partner was afraid to reveal
   
attitudes towards “LGTBQI” people are evolving and the global
conversation continues around equality and marriage. He reminds
us all that it is important to remember that, “Love is LOVE.” In the
interview Jerusalem revealed that he hopes that through listening
to this song, people “would be moved by it, and if they were straight
or practicing intolerance, at some point they would listen to the
song and they would change their mind a little.” This data set clearly
depicts how this research is interpretivist in nature.
Description of the culture
Due to the tapestries of cultures of the San Luis Valley (SLV),
interacting with each other and researching inequities was

understand how the performer’s lived experiences in the San
Luis Valley impacted their expression of emotional reactions to
inequalities. The median incomes for counties within the SLV range
from $21,118-$34,793 [23]. Although the hub of the SLV, Alamosa
County, has a population breakdown of 7,667 Whites (Non-
Hispanics) and 7,110 Hispanics, only 8 out of our 19 participants
were believed to be from Hispanic decent, making this a limitation
of the study. We had one participant from Guam (Chamorro decent)
and the rest of the 11 participants were White. Despite not having
a representative sample of the Alamosa community, this study did
provide critical information on how peoples lived experiences in
the SLV impacted their emotional reactions to inequity issues.
After analyzing the data for emotional reactions to inequities,
themes and sub-themes were created. The three themes and their
sub-themes are listed below:
I. Racial issues in the San Luis Valley
a. Cultural insiders sharing their experience
b. Cultural outsiders increasing understanding
II. Systemic issues in the San Luis Valley
a. Gender equity
b. Homophobia
c. Discrimination of drug users
d. Bullies and government
e. Unity, love, and hope
III. Betterment of Adams State University
These themes and sub-themes were derived from the interview
       
culture of the San Luis Valley (SLV). The participants then had
emotions arise as they detailed their experience in the SLV that
related in inequity. The next sections detail these themes and sub-
themes further.
Racial issues in the San Luis valley
The theme of participants addressing racial issues in the SLV

insiders sharing their experiences,” consisted of three participants
of Hispanic decent detailing racism, Hispanic guilt, generational
gaps, and subjugation by employers. The second sub-theme,
“cultural outsiders increasing understanding, awareness, and
helping to solve problems,” were artists of Caucasian decent who
shared their experiences with and understanding of other cultures
in the valley, such as: Hispanics, Native Americans, and Blacks.
Cultural insiders sharing their experiences
As a group, the emotions revealed in the analysis for artists
who wrote on this topic included rage, vigilance, loathing, and
ecstasy. These emotions were blended into the participants lived
experiences in the San Luis Valley and impacted their reactions to
inequity. For instance, Ricardo was full of rage and Hispanic guilt as he
detailed his experiences with racism. In Ricardo’s spoken word and
interview, he knew racism “existed,” but more than anything else he

of rage when he felt there wasn’t any accountability for professors
who told him, “I know you’re a good kid because I know you, but
if I were to see you outside of the school, you’re probably the type
2019 Open Access Journal of Biomedical Science Open Acc J Bio Sci. October - 1(1): 37-46
C41
of fella I’d cross the street for.” Not only has this type of treatment
come from Caucasians, but Ricardo had other Hispanic people give
him major guilt trips as well. Ricardo came from L.A. and he was
used to anyone who spoke Spanish to help other Spanish speakers
in times of need. His experience in the valley with other Hispanics
was much different though. For example, he stated it feels “like they
know that you’re speaking a Spanish that’s not from the valley.”
Ricardo felt that he was not a part of their “clique” and people that
he worked with were “condescending” to him and they would “talk
down to me.” Although Ricardo was technically a Hispanic cultural
insider, his treatment in the valley, from other Hispanics, was like
he was from the “hood.
Antonio also felt rage and loathing when he performed and
recorded “Self-Made Nothing.” He felt subjugated by his employers,
and since he is a janitor and his employer are the director, he felt
subjugated. Antonio understood that maintaining personal security
by belittling others and overly identifying with one’s job title is the
cause of this emotional reaction. Antonio also detailed how, because
of pride, people in the valley don’t speak of these injustices.
The lead singer of the reggae/rock band “Valley Marchers”
(pseudonym) vigilantly gave light into the racism and stereotypes

lead the pursuit of change in our society. On racism, he believes the
older generations (Hispanics) still have their ways of thinking and
they are not seeing it integrated into the community as they think
they should be. The lead singer stated that he sees this as a chance
To empower everybody. You should look at this song and listen
to it like this is time for us to stand as people and see what we could
do for our valley and what we’re doing now and not so much for
ourselves, because we’re all in this together and everything. Shop
local, do things local. We don’t need to bring in all these other
       
this a great place to be.
This is a way to “move to a brand-new sun” like he sings in his
song “Medicine Man.” The feeling of ecstasy was transmitted as he
addressed issues, helped others be knowledgeable, and called for

Another reggae artist, Ryan, wasn’t a cultural insider of the
valley, but was able to apply his cultural insider experience as a
Chamorro (someone from Guam) into the SLV situation. Due to
the colonization of the Spaniards and the Japanese, the Chamorro
people lost their language and their culture. As Ryan sings the lyrics
“thinking as a young boy I wish I could speak my native tongue.
Was lost with my ancestors like a bird lost at sea,” the feelings of
remorse and loss are very damaging to his cultural roots. Ryan
used his experience in Raging Studios as a catalyst for change. Ryan
continues to learn more Chamorro language today. Hopefully, when
other members of the SLV community who have lost their language
hear this song, they will be inspired to learn their language as well.
Cultural outsiders increasing understanding
Another important way for equity issues to be addressed is
having people who are cultural outsiders to understand what other
cultures are going through so we as humans can seek empathy
and common understanding. The artists that wrote works through
this lens detailed feelings of anger, shame, guilt, and serenity
within their active learning processes. Topics of white guilt and
privilege surfaced with these participants. The consideration of
making amends for terrible wrongdoings of people in the past was
considered as well.
Julie suffered from white guilt as she carried a lot of shame with
her as she recollected what had happened to Native Americans in
our country. The transformation of Julie’s perceptions and mood
through the data collection process was astounding. She started to
feel less guilt about the process, and in the interview explained,
I don’t have to feel guilty somehow being the precedent to
my advantageous life, but we must recognize how some of these
conditions have affected African Americans, Native Americans,
(and) other populations or migrant workers that we have amongst
us in the valley.
Julie went on to speak about how some people believe that
these oppressed people should “get over it,” however, they fail to
understand how the experience of a society impacts and “tears up”
the people who come after them. She also mentions how humanity

for it. She concludes with “we can’t just say, oh, it’s all good now,
it’s not all good now.” Julie’s poetry highlights some critical points
of view from people with privilege. Her responses detail critical
ways to not ignore the past, but to try to make amends. Also, by
learning from our past, we can all make sure we don’t recommit
these atrocities in the future.
The singer/songwriter Stephen shared many sentiments with
Julie, and through song, he also wrote about white guilt, but this
time through the lens of a dysfunctional justice system. Stephen
perceived the dysfunctional justice system to be centered on racism
and discrimination and noted that many members of the police
forces around the nation have a self-centered worldview. In his
lyrics, he sings “equal rights this way, cause black lives matter.”
Even though Stephen has never felt racism or hatred personally,
he wrote about racism and hatred taking place around the world
today. Stephen talked about Michael Brown and Eric Garner being
gunned down by law enforcement along with riots and discontent
in Missouri and around the world. In his interview, Stephen his
main message “should be applied to any kind of discriminatory
situation.” Through his data set, Stephen focuses on how we can be
empathetic as humans and we all need to seek understanding and
commonalties within our differences.
Within year one of Raging Studios, we also had the great
pleasure of having the legendary singer/songwriter Don Richmond

          

and living in the SLV with the Hispanic culture. He views the culture
and history in the SLV being controlled by the interplay between
the Hispanic culture and the Anglo culture. Don always had a lot
of Hispanic friends, and even though he wasn’t Hispanic, he could
see the transition of their culture here in the valley. According to
Don, the Hispanics Were surviving, they were doing ok as a culture,
which was often very rooted in the ground, in the soil sustenance,
farming, and the people were shop keepers.
Then another culture came in and. it was like an asphalt paving
machine running across a meadow.
It is apparent that many cultural groups could agree that when
the Anglo culture was “played on top” that it “negated the relevance
of the older Hispanic culture that was here.” Richmond’s second
verse of the song talks about how many of the Hispanics: Are lost,
they fell in the cracks between these cultures, the old culture isn’t
operating in the same way that is used to be, they don’t play the
game of the new culture well, they haven’t learned to play that game
or they said I don’t what to play that game.
Jeremy T Yeats
2019 Open Access Journal of Biomedical Science Open Acc J Bio Sci. October - 1(1): 37-46
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Research Article
42
Don is very conscious of how things were and how they relate
to the current society. His lyrics describe how “we all have a lot in
common, underneath our skin, it should be common knowledge,
inside we’re all kin.” These lyrics promote the notion that we are all
family and that at the end of the day, we might not understand each
other, but “we do the best we can.” All of us, regardless of our life
conditions are doing the best we can with what we have.
Systemic issues in the San Luis valley
Not only were there important racial issues found in this study,
         
oppression within the San Luis Valley. This theme was further
broken down into 5 sub-themes: gender equity, homophobia,
lifestyle choices, bullies and government, and unity, love, and hope.
Some of these sub-themes had multiple participants addressing
these issues; however, gender equity for example had one woman’s

perceptions on these issues.
Gender equity
Of the four women to participate in this study, only one chose to
write a song about gender equity. Karen Lemke was annoyed with
the gender differences in communication. The linguistic differences
stemmed from self-centered, passive aggressive, inauthentic way
of reacting to a personal offense with the term “I’m sorry.” Karen
gave an example of her learning to dance Salsa and Tango at a local
restaurant/bar. She stated in an interview: I was literally stepping
on people’s toes, and for me to get out of that headspace, of I’m
sorry, I’m sorry I’m in the wrong place, I shouldn’t be doing this, I
 
you for dancing with me. This is funny that um I’m learning this way
and of course I’m going to make mistakes as I learn.
Instead of being sorry for making mistakes while learning, she
found gratitude and wasn’t focused on a problem. Being solution-
focused, Karen could “amplify the positive things the solutions that
I see around me and I mean even right here.” She felt it was her duty
to relay this message in her classes she taught and throughout the
community, she even mentioned how this constructivist interview
contributed to being others-centered and solution-focused.
Homophobia
Another singer/songwriter came into the studio to record a track
entitled “It Makes No Difference.” This song carries sad undertones
as the raw emotion of losing a relationship because of the fear of
what people would think about homosexuality. These homophobic
thoughts plaguing society is the essence of this heartbreaking song.
The songwriter, Jerusalem, explains how the gay community in
the SLV lives in secret. This is especially hard for him, because he
came from an “open gay community.” When Jerusalem organizes
dinners out with groups of other gay men “they’re very much in
the closet and there’s a lot of fear.” He thinks the fear is based on
potential rejection, poor treatment, and even violence against the
        
is hopeful that the global conversation continues and attitudes
towards LGTBQI change. Marriage equality and anyone being able
to love anyone else and acceptance of all relationships permeates
the hope within this data set.
The punk rock band Bled Out also wrote on how certain
parts of society, in this case some Rastafarian sects, are very

see some Rastas as the most homophobic people they know. They
         
This violence is uncalled for and creates potential hate crimes.
Stephen also had lyrics in relation to homophobia. In his song he
sings, “Squeeze yourself in to this white hetero-normative box.
In drawing similarities from racism and homophobia, Stephen
      
getting labeled and put into “boxes.” He goes on to explain how
hetero-normative society views relationships as having a man
and a woman, even though this isn’t always the case. Some of
these individuals wonder, “which one is the man?” when looking
   
homophobia, there is still a lot of oppression directed towards the
LGTBQI community.
Discrimination of drug users
Another form of oppression that arose in this study was
      
people experienced discrimination and oppression based on if
they chose to partake in marijuana or other drugs. Nicole, from
the band Nicole and her Sacred Undergarments mentioned how
unfair judgment of others based on their substance use creates


even though marijuana is legal, it remains illegal federally, and you
“can’t go and apply for jobs without having to worry about popping
a pee test or having to lie on an application if you do drugs.” So even
though it’s legal, it is still looked down upon in the SLV or anywhere
else. Nicole says that the judgment must stop and suggests that
we “need to increase awareness and education” on these matters.
As she sings in her song “So go ahead and judge us, tell us we’re
no good, because we’ll keep doing what we’re doing, until we’re
understood.
In the interview with the “Valley Marchers,” the lead singer also
spoke about drug use within the SLV. His opening lyrics say, “Rising
tide take me away, far from all my yesterdays.” He is singing about
distancing from the impurities of the SLV valley and says, “There’s a
lot of people who overdose and die.” He urges us not to focus on this,
but we need to “wash ourselves and get rid of those impurities and
say goodbye to yesterday and let’s go to a brand-new sun.” These
are additional suggestions to empower and make change in the SLV.
Bullies and government
A student named Gabe recorded a hip-hop song called ‘Step
Up’ in Raging Studios. This song detailed the incomprehensible
injustices of bullies and government. Instead of government being
         
Matter#,” Gabe writes about lack of motivation, goal orientation,
and the government hiding the truth from its citizens. Gabe raps,
“It’s a cold dark world beyond these walls, our government lies
just to hide their falls.” There is a strong connection between the
problems of entering the” cold dark world” and the feeling of
people being “trapped” in the SLV. In the interview, Gabe detailed
the valley we live in, “The San Luis Valley is very poverty stricken,
but kids just think that because they’re here that they can’t get out
and go into a different place and grow and be a very successful
person, they feel like they get trapped in the valley.” Although going
into a different place means it could be a “cold dark world” created
by media and government lives, Gabe ends his song with hope. He
hopes that people can be original, use their voice, and help others
to be activists like him.
A singer/songwriter named Howard from the band Alec and
the Assholes also wrote about oppression through deception by
the powerful. In his song “Dragons with Slippers” he presents a
2019 Open Access Journal of Biomedical Science Open Acc J Bio Sci. October - 1(1): 37-46
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metaphor for those in power deceivingly brainwashing people. His
loathing for government prevails throughout the data collection.
Howard speaks about evil people running the government: “You get
one bad evil person who has a passion to rule other human beings
in their heart no matter what the cost, the shark telling the sheep
what to do.” When referring to the evil person, he also details how
leaders come together as if they are from the “same cloth.
Unity, love and hope
Many of the artists who participated in Raging Studios chose
         
The typical structure of this came through once presenting sources
of emotional actions towards oppression and understanding the
causes, most participants then came up with ways to overcome these
struggles. The ways that participants overcame, reacted to, and
dealt with negative emotions were overwhelmingly positive. The
themes of unity, love, and hope prevailed in the end. The musicians
and poets wanted to: increase awareness and education (Nicole),
 
love (Valley Marchers), acceptance of all relationships (Jeru),
others-centered and solution-focused (Karen), understanding and
commonalties within our differences (Stephen and Don), make sure
we don’t recommit these atrocities (Julie), and a need to realize the
connection between language and culture (Ryan). These tools to
work through issues centered on discrimination, giving hope, and
inspiring us to love and come together as people in a positive way.
Although most performances didn’t appear to reach love,
          
the band Salty Pickle was positive and focused on love and unity
throughout their data set. During the acoustic performance, the
         
Salty Pickle focused on their hopeful message of unity, inclusivity
of all, and the strong connections that show humans and nature are
one. The overwhelming feeling of hope of unity and oneness also
          
you have to love yourself, take care of yourself, then spread that
to other people, think with your heart.” This is the beginning of

is not only for organisms, but she speaks of “the ocean and all of the
pollution, the pollution doesn’t just blow over the mountain.” She
then describes how people in the SLV interact in a healthy way. This
band’s message is focused on Everyone Included (which is the title
of their track). They see people in the SLV as being “really good at
taking on the community and including everyone.” Although many
other participants in this project didn’t see this portion of the SLV, it
does exist, according to Salty Pickle.
Betterment of Adams State university
As people described their emotional reactions to their
experiences within the SLV, another common theme was

Adams State University (ASU). Anger, loathing, dejection, and rage
were the feelings of the participants as they shared the inequity
they experienced at ASU. The students and the employees who
shared these feelings experienced subjugation by their employers,
racial discrimination, and unrest in their departments.
Ricardo, a Hispanic student, expressed rage against the
structure of ASU. He felt that there was no “agency” that would
     
I feel like if I ever wanted to tell someone or report someone, what
some of those psychology professors have said, those professors
out rank me a student that they don’t even want to hear about a
professor that.... they can barely get professors to stay here, so why
are they going to go rock the boat and do a written write up for a
professor, when I’m going to be gone maybe by next semester and
this guy wants to be here till he retires.
Although he felt there was no current accountability in place
for inappropriate comments and behaviors from professors, he
did have some ideas on how the institution could solve some of
these issues. Ricardo suggested that there should be some sort of
“departmental oversight.” He was aware of accreditation agencies
having their role, but he is suggesting something else entirely.
Ricardo is calling for quality control, starting at the upper echelons
of the university. He would like to see mechanisms in place that
would monitor chairs and departments more thoroughly.
Another pair of students (Corbin and Darryl) shared their
perspectives on the unrest of the music department at ASU. Corbin
and Darryl detailed the lack of “homeostasis” in their department
due to many people using this school as a stepping-stone to “go
somewhere better.” They have had great players play music with
them in their department, but some of them play “way better than
our band does.” At the time of this data collection, their department
had gaping holes as well. Corbin thought it was “asinine” that they
didn’t have a true bassist and lacked jazz saxophone players. He also
saw a lack of recruiting of students, except for one professor in the
department. Corbin suggested, “you could have a reward system,
if you have 50 kids in the studio, you’re going to get a bonus.” This
way there could be some accountability for recruiting to achieve
the goal of having a strong, full instrumentation ensemble. This,
according to Corbin and Darryl, would help solve the inequalities
and lack of institutional support they experienced at ASU.
An employee at ASU, Antonio, also experienced inequity
in terms of subjugation from the employer. The biggest reason
Antonio believes employers yell and belittle their employees is
that they have, “too much identity in their job title; they are too
insecure within themselves that they have to look to that title to
give them a sense of entitlement and empowerment.” Antonio sees
the whole thing as a lose-lose situation. You “stick out a job” even if
you get yelled at or belittled, but you also are missing out on time
with your family who you love. Antonio suggests that people try
to look within themselves to better understand our managers and

these inequities.
Field issues
         
ethnographic research in a recording studio. Within the studio
setting, it is best to have someone with many years of experience as
a sound engineer. Learning the software and mixing, mastering, and

taught the two researchers in this study a very extensive computer
music course before collecting data, but neither of us had at least 5
years of recording experience. The lack of experience inhibited the
quality of the recordings in some instances. For example, we never
used gates to take out sounds at certain frequencies. Also, studios
are not the best place to build rapport with participants, as they can
be intimidating to some people.
Participant researcher data, analysis and interpretations
In addition to the participants’ creation of music and interview,
the researchers also completed these steps as participants as well.
Jeremy T Yeats
2019 Open Access Journal of Biomedical Science Open Acc J Bio Sci. October - 1(1): 37-46
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Research Article
44
          
more similarly followed the participants in their song creation
and interview. The second participant researcher, Jeremy, created
a song that sought to analyze and synthesize the themes and
emotions of all participants. In this fashion, Jeremy’s song was a
research synthesis of all song creations, written and expressed as a
poetic representation of the data.
Rob’s song was titled “Up on Pine Ridge”. His song describes his
experience of working at Chadron State, and experiencing racial
tension as a Caucasian amongst Native Americans. One experience is
highlighted in Rob’s song, in which he feels like a minority amongst
Native Americans at a gas station. Rob’s experience amongst ethnic
minority students and community members in Nebraska led him to
feel a deep compassion and desire to act to improve human rights.
In fact, in his interview, Rob states “actually performing the song
was an emotional release in a way.” Rob’s song is unique from many
participants in the fact that Rob’s experience with inequity is as
a member of privilege. In Rob’s interview, he states that he likely
would have never recorded this song if it weren’t for the Ragin
Studios recording studio at ASU.
The lead researcher was Jeremy. His song, “Ragin”, compiles and
synthesizes the ideas and messages of all participants. Some themes
of oppression from participant lyrics which were represented in the
song “Ragin” include classism (“humanity built our world, on top
the helpless”), racism (“using slaves, pompous circumstance”), and
sexism (“our mothers, daughters and sisters got no appreciation”).
In addition, an underlying theme of inequity that emerges in
         
musicians experience. The intent to overcome this obstacle is
        
paradox of the song “Ragin” is the idea that facing and expressing
rage through music can be cathartic and provide a platform for
dialogue about inequity. This idea is apparent in the lyric “ragin’
for a cause, helps us unwind, diffusing madness”. Emotions of joy
and excitement for the ability to have participants create music and
express experiences of inequity are evidenced in the lyric “voices
lost from La Raza, highlight inequity. It is time now to write lyrics,
write poetry.” Another participant noted a loss of Chamorro culture
and language, just as the voices lost from the Chicanos in the SLV.
Another noteworthy theme which emerged in Jeremy’s interview
was living in Hawaii as an outsider who experienced prejudice
and racism. Jeremy described rejection as locals told him, “no you
can’t surf here.” In addition, Jeremy experienced acts of aggression.
Jeremy experienced violence on “Haole days”, when local Hawaiians
would deliver “false cracks where people just swing at you for no
reason at all, just punch you in the face.
LIMITATIONS
As any study, there are a few limitations of this study worth
mentioning. One of these limitations was of trustworthiness, which
could have been increased by member checking. The researchers
didn’t return interview transcripts back to participants as some
participants no longer are in our community and their contact
information has changed. Another limitation is with methodology.
The analysis procedures used was a critical ethnography, but a
       
limitation of the study was actual scope in which the participants
could describe culture through an ethnographic lens. In future
research, it would be important to provide a much more in-depth
analysis of these issues, for example an entire album and series of

as well, and it would add to Raging Studios research.
DISCUSSION/IMPLICATIONS
 
in the justice system, corporate misbehavior, systemic oppression
by the powerful, understanding white guilt and privilege, and
losing language and culture due to colonialism impact greatly how
we function in our institutions and our communities we live in.
Like other research on overcoming negative functions of higher
education, the performers in this study detailed many important
suggestions on how to overcome inequity within society. Williams
[24] has indicated that an important way to boost diversity on
campus is to implement changes in the structure that are holistic
and make a real difference [25-36].

how Raging Studios was a positive, holistic diversity change on our

us understand sub-themes of issues of cultural insiders sharing
their experiences and cultural outsiders increasing understanding,
awareness, and helping to solve problems. Regarding cultural
insiders, these three Hispanics emotively shared their experiences
of racism directed from Caucasians to Hispanics, but also from
one Hispanic group to another. Feelings of subjugation based on
job titles, racism, and stereotypes also impacted these Hispanics
in negative ways. The cultural outsiders helped create a better
understanding, awareness, and began to share ideas that could help
solve problems for Hispanic, Black, and Native American cultures
they performed about. Within this sub-theme, it is evident that
we need to: be empathetic and cognizant of privilege as humans,
seek understanding within our differences, remember our pasts
while making amends, and need to understand the interplay of
the relevance and loss of relevance in cultural realms. Regardless
of whether the participants were cultural insiders or outsiders, the
participants expressed a myriad of emotional reactions to the racial
issues in the San Luis Valley, including feelings of rage, vigilance,
loathing, guilt, anger, shame, ecstasy and serenity. These emotions
       

individuals represented in this theme attested to the importance of
understanding that the Anglo/Western culture is now the culture
          
this when describing the interplay between the Anglo and Hispanic
cultures. When the Anglo culture gained more importance it
“negated the relevance of the older Hispanic culture that was here.”
As described by the participants, Blacks and Native Americans also
have found themselves in this conundrum of deciding whether to
be a part of this culture, end up not being able to contribute to that
kind of culture well, or have decided they don’t want to be a part of
the current mainstream culture at all.
In terms of systemic issues in the San Luis Valley, the sub-
themes within this theme were much broader topically, however,
they aligned with a systemic perspective. The data in this study
revealed that society systematically oppresses females, the LGBTQI
population, and drug users. Instead of using self-centered, passive
aggressive communication towards women, Karen reminds us to
be others-centered and solution focused. True marriage equality
and challenging hetero-normative society will help the LGBTQI
population from not living in the closet in fear of rejection, poor
treatment, and violence. Participants also reminded us that
homophobic religions and role models must not be tolerated.
Jeremy T Yeats
Research Article
2019 Open Access Journal of Biomedical Science Open Acc J Bio Sci. October - 1(1): 37-46
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Discrimination towards drug users was another sub-theme
that was especially informative to our Colorado community.
Even though recreational marijuana use is legal, employers can
          
Increasing awareness on these drug-related issues are important
and further education can prevent overdoses and deaths. Other
sub-themes of systemic issues in the San Luis Valley emerged as
bullies/government and unity, love, and hope. As for bullies and
government, participants would argue those not in politics are
being manipulated and deceived by the media and the government,
which creates a “cold, dark world.” These divisive politics, per
Howard, brain wash people and people of the “same cloth” remain
in charge. Unity, love, and hope was a common sub-theme as well,
which revealed a lot of positivity and ideas for solutions for society.
As the artists in this study understood, reacted to, and dealt with
oppression, many gave ideas of how to overcome struggles in
positive ways. Education, empowerment, loving all people and
things, accepting other peoples’ loves, understanding differences,
and recognizing connection between language and culture can
help us avoid recommitting atrocities and continuing oppressive
cycles. Consider the main message from the band Salty Pickle, unity,
inclusivity of all, and the strong connections that show humans and
nature are one is what is important.
         
Adams State University. In terms of the betterment of Adams State,
inequity brought up feelings of anger, loathing, dejection, and rage
as participants gave examples of their experiences in the San Luis
Valley. An employee shared feeling of subjugation from his employer
and suggests that we look within ourselves to better understand
         
people to help each other overcome these inequities. Students also
had some great ideas on how to better the university in terms of
racial discrimination and unrest within departments. Creating

more effectively, higher quality recruiting, and potential rewards
for well-enrolled programs were suggested as ways to better our
institution.
This study begins the dialogue to unite people of our San
Luis Valley community with the purpose of becoming free of
oppression; and cooperation, unity, organization, and cultural
action have been instrumental in this process (Freire, 1993). In
alignment with Friere’s work, the participants in Raging Studios
contributed to understand and eventually change their worlds.

and constructivist interviews that held dialogue as being pivotal to
create humility and love with the “communion with the people”
(Freire, 1993, p. 151). Unity for liberation is also an important

of systemic issues in the San Luis Valley. Musicians and poets in
   
love, promote acceptance of all relationships, focus on others and
solutions to problems, understand commonalities within our
differences, make sure we don’t commit the same past mistakes,
and realize connections between language and culture. These
      
being oppressed to a conscious group of the oppressed class
working to inspire, love, and come together in our community, in
a positive way.
Organization, Freire notes, is linked closely with unity. Although
Raging Studios has begun to have researchers, community
members, faculty, and students organize, the purpose of this project
is to have many more people organize with this cause. The musical
leaders in our community, who have contributed, signed waivers
  
Raging Studios Album are the ones organizing this dialogue on a
bigger scale. The song that was written by the researchers as an
educational ethnography data analysis was not written to say the
words of the leaders of the project, but its purpose was to say the
important messages learned in this study with the people and
their words. The hope is that Raging Studios spurs additional
cultural action, so lyricists and poets can share more about their
experience of the culture of inequity, and people can come together
not to transmit knowledge but “to learn, with the people, about the
people’s world (Freire, 1993, p. 161).” This project is an example of
how we can address inequity issues in higher education, and it can
be an important addition to the curriculum at schools all over the
world. Our relationships with people from all different backgrounds
can evolve through love as we respect and welcome others as our
own family. Given the alternative nature of the data within this
project, a much deeper understanding can be gleaned from listening
to the Raging Studios, Vol. 1 album, which is available at: https://
soundcloud.com/user-320636422/sets/raging-studios-volume-1.
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