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Title: The prestige economy of a London orchestra
Author: Carpos, Francesca
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 1694
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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This study is an insider’s examination into an orchestral world, using the theoretical framework of a prestige economy as a way to understand perceptions of orchestral musicians within their orchestral context. I bridge the theoretical notion of a prestige economy to the empirical research, and examine some of the very complex ways that orchestral musicians strategize in order to gain work. Thus, the theoretical context for this study comprises the orchestra, orchestral musicians, and the theoretical framework of the prestige economy. The focus of the empirical research is a symphony orchestra involving one hundred and twelve musicians. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews in London during the period 2012–2015. The thematic analysis of the data evolved through an inductive series of interchanges between data and existing theory to ‘develop theoretical propositions or explanations out of the data’ (Mason, 1996: 137). In addition, the inductive process through the pilot study actuated triangulation in the main study, bringing into focus not only the views of orchestral musicians but also the orchestral fixers who employ them. Consequently, the building of prestige in this context can be viewed as a socially ordered practice, and therefore I review sociological literature concerned with the process of social construction, encompassing notions of capital and theories of social interaction. At the conclusion of this study the research identifies some arguably contentious aspects, including the notion that the more prestige that is granted, the more it grants. An explanation is that since reciprocity is self-perpetuating, prestige also self-perpetuates through reciprocal interactions through networks. It seems that when prestige is discussed the notion of inequality is generally omitted. Thus, an intended outcome is to draw attention to the vulnerabilities and tensions of a professional orchestral life, by offering a helpful theoretical focus in which to explore ways that musicians perceive their roles and positions in their orchestral community. I argue that the orchestra is a propitious research setting to effectuate the theoretical model of a prestige economy, and suggest that the notion of a prestige economy framework both answers and exposes questions of more than one theoretical gap in the literature. This study not only contributes to the literature regarding the sociology of musicians in the context of their orchestral world, but also to other sociological studies of work and occupations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available