Date of Award

7-17-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Ted Friedman - Chair

Second Advisor

Jonathan Sterne

Third Advisor

Alisa Perren

Fourth Advisor

Emanuela Guano

Fifth Advisor

Kathryn Fuller-Seeley

Abstract

This dissertation contributes to music scene and online community studies. It is an historical examination of the CBLocals music scene in the summer of 2006. This scene is located in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada, and the website with which its participants identify. This study analyzes the CBLocals website as a cultural infrastructure of a music scene and thus positions itself to advance pre-Internet arguments about scenes. This dissertation argues that on the one hand, the Internet changes how music scenes function by increasing accessibility and mobility. On the other hand, it has left the social composition and ideological outlook of music scenes unchanged. Users celebrate the medium's possibilities and what the CBLocals website has brought to their scene. They also feel nostalgia for the practices they feel their scene has lost along the way. The result is that the most significant consequence of CBLocals.com and the Internet on the music scene is a feeling of ambivalence in its participants. In the second and third chapter, I demonstrate how local context still greatly affects the representation of the CBLocals scene. In Chapter Two, I analyze the social composition of CBLocals based on race, gender, region, class, sexuality and age. I conclude that this social composition is unaffected by technological advances. In Chapter Three, I analyze discussions of "selling out" within the scene. I conclude that regional perspectives of state-supported professionalism in music and arts inform discussions on "selling out" that are specific to the CBLocals community. The fourth chapter explores the CBLocals users' perceptions of the website and messageboard. Users celebrate a variety of benefits, such as an interactive forum, the social lubrication provided by online gossip and the ease of promoting music online. However, many users dislike what they see as the erosion of work ethic and standards of discourse that have occurred in the Internet age. These mixed emotions reflect the ambivalence resulting from the celebration of possibilities and the nostalgia emergent with new technology.

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