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Research Seminar. Vicky Armstrong: When ‘Good’ Work Turns ‘Bad’: Creative Labour and the Working Lives of Female Classical Musicians

Wednesday 27 February 2019, 4.00PM

Speaker(s): Dr Victoria Armstrong

David Hesmondhalgh (2010: 234) asks the question, is creative labour barely disguised ‘bad’ work? Drawing on his concept of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ work, this paper presents data from my recent research and offers a critical analysis of the working lives of 24 female UK-based classical musicians, ranging in age from mid-twenties to mid-60s, and working as composers, conductors and performers. The challenge is mediating between overly deterministic and overly voluntaristic accounts of subjectivity for these workers by examining the factors which circumscribe and shape these women’s musical lives, and which can result in ‘good’ work becoming ‘bad’ work. I developed a ‘digital ethnographic’ approach to the data collection and the seminar will include a discussion about the rationale for the research design, and the strengths and weaknesses of this type of qualitative methodology.

Vicky Armstrong

Dr Victoria Armstrong originally trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. As a sociologist of music, her interests focus on social justice and gender issues in education and within the music industry. Her work has been presented in the UK, Europe and America. Invited keynotes include the Grieg Academy of Music, Norway, the Ableton Loop Festival, Berlin, and Örebro University, Sweden, where she recently held a Visiting Research Fellowship. She is the author of Technology and the Gendering of Music Education and is currently working on a monograph exploring the gendered dimensions of the working lives of female professional classical musicians.

Location: D/003, Sally Baldwin D Block