The social construction of 'musician' identity in music education students in Canadian Universities
This research concerns itself with the development of a theory in the grounded tradition to account for the social construction of an identity as musician by music education students in Canadian universities. The principal data gathering techniques were semi- and unstructured interviews and participant observation, first at the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Music, University of Western Ontario with further periods of interviewing at the University of Alberta and the University of British Columbia. The pilot study was conducted at Memorial University of Newfoundland where the author was, at the time of writing, an Associate Professor and Co-ordinator of Music Education in the Faculty of Education. Data collection and analysis were completed simultaneously and the interviewing became more focused on emerging categories and their properties, particularly concerning the construction of identity. The core categories discussed concern the apparent sense of isolation and the development of a symbolic community in the music school, as suggested by Cohen (1985). Further core analytic categories include the music education students' perceptions of Others as outsiders to their own insider symbolic community, and the students' perception of social action, including the notion of deviancy, which contributes to their construction of this symbolic closed community. An examination of models of social action is undertaken. The notion of making points as suggested by Goffman (1967) provides a beginning model for the identification and accumulation of status points which students appear to use in the process of identity construction and validation. Further discussion examines the nature of the music education sub-group as a stigmatized group. The nature of the category musician is examined and substantial comparison and contrasting with the position presented by Kingsbury (1984) is undertaken. The analytical categories of talent and music as in-group constructs are examined. Finally the processes of Self-Other negotiation on are explored and a theory is developed to account for the construction and maintenance of musician identity. The emerging theory borrows extensively from those analyses of the roots of social interaction recognised in the labelling tradition which are concerned with the construction of identity in negotiation with Others, and most specifically draws upon the notion of societal reaction. The research is guided by those theories and methodologies generated by symbolic interactionism developed by writers such as Blumer, Meltzer and Denzin and follows the traditions of sociological research in educational settings by such writers as Baksh, Martin and Stebbins in Canada, and Hargreaves, Woods, Ball, Hammersley and Lacey in the U.K.