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Title: "Let's stick together" : social identity, music fans, and group membership
Author: Bowers, Daniel S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 1461
Awarding Body: University of South Wales
Current Institution: University of South Wales
Date of Award: 2016
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Social identity theory (SIT) suggests that the groups to which an individual belongs, to a large degree, define their identity. Previous research has demonstrated that music fanship is a particularly effective group membership for the construction and communication of an individual's identity (e.g. Rentfrow & Gosling, 2003) and that music preferences can guide how we perceive and act towards others (e.g. Lonsdale & North, 2009). However, there has not been a great deal of research examining the differences between the fans of different styles of music and also how and why the importance of music fanship changes across the lifespan. This thesis examines the differences between the fans of different styles of music on key indices of social identity. It also examines whether there are cross sectional age differences between music fans in terms of these indices. The current body of work was designed so that aspects of the findings could be triangulated between studies to increase their reliability and validity. Six studies, using a variety of methodologies, have been conducted to investigate these questions. Study 1 was questionnaire based and investigated four key areas of music fanship (1) perceived commitment, (2) behavioural commitment, (3) music based judgements of others & (4) music group joining processes. Studies 2 and 3 were quasi experimental in nature and made use of a novel visual analogue scale to assess differences between fans of different musical styles on their in-group identification and other indices of social identity and to test elements of contemporary conceptualisations of identification. Study 4 was a card sorting task which examined the relative importance of music to fans' identities. Study 5 was an adjective selection task where fans were asked to choose words that described the members of both their musical in-group and selected out-groups to investigate key social identity processes. Study 6 was a large scale qualitative study where fans of different musical styles and ages were asked to talk about their experiences of being a music fan across the lifecourse. Study 1 showed that there were key differences between fans of different musical styles and ages in terms of the four areas investigated. Studies 2, 3 and 4 demonstrated that although people saw their music fanship as being relatively important to their overall identity, that there did not appear to be significant differences between fans of different ages or of different types in this regard. These studies also showed support for elements of the Leach at al. (2008) model of identification as well as Postmes et al.'s (2013) single dimension of identification. Study 5 indicated that the self-definition profiles of different music fan groups were indeed different from one another and that fans were more positive than negative about the members of their in-group. It also demonstrated that an individual's own group membership had an impact on how they subsequently described the members of opposing groups. A thematic analysis of the interviews and focus groups in Study 6 found that three superordinate themes emerged. These were (1) group joining & becoming a fan, (2) social identity processes amongst music fans & (3) music fanship changes across the lifespan. These findings show clear differences between the fans of different musical styles in aspects of group joining processes, subsequent social identity processes with which they engage and how much they identify with their in-group. It also demonstrates cross sectional differences between fans of different ages for these processes. These findings have implications for future research on elective group membership and social identity processes.
Supervisor: Taylor, Rachel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available