with Gaynor Bagnall, Garry Crawford and Victoria Gosling, University of Salford, UK.
A Case Study of the Potentials and Limitations
of the Participatory Turn: Young People and
Classical Music Audience Engagement
Creative Industries Faculty!
The Participatory Turn
The pre-Web2.0 Internet is often characterised as ‘read’ with
the rise of Web 2.0 heralding ‘write and contribute’
(Beer and Burrows 2007).
“the essential difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 is that
content creators were few in Web 1.0 with the vast majority of
users simply acting as consumers of content, while any
participant can be a content creator in Web 2.0 and numerous
technological aids have been created to maximize the potential
for content creation. The democratic nature of Web 2.0 is
exemplified by creations of large number of niche groups
(collections of friends) who can exchange content of any kind
(text, audio, video) and tag, comment, and link to both intra–
group and extra–group “pages.”
(Cormode and Krishnamurphy,2008)
Histories of Engagement with Arts and Culture
❖ Literature on cultural omnivorousness (e.g., Peterson and Kern 1996) suggests that we have, over recent years, seen a softening
of class-based taste distinctions. !
❖ Research data suggests that some traditionally ‘popular’ (‘lowbrow’ and ‘middlebrow’), pastimes have seen an increase in
popularity with middle and upper-class consumers (for example, football in the UK, see King 1995), there is less evidence of
those lower down the social hierarchy adopting interests in, traditionally deemed, ‘high brow’ culture. !
❖ Critics have derided what they regard as increasingly media and spectacle–dominated exhibitions in twenty–first century
museums, with their adoption of digital technologies, conspicuous consumption and an emphasis on novelty (Message, 2006). !
❖ Huyssen has pointed out, ‘entertainment and spectacle can function in tandem with complex forms of enlightenment’ (1995:32)!
❖ It has been argued that museums are increasingly popular due to the materiality of the objects not available to the consumer of
television (Bagnall & Rowland, 2010)!
❖ MacCleod (2005) attention to the role that visitors play in the process of producing and re- producing museum content and
❖ Kidd (2011) has argued the authority of museum professionals can be called into question by museum audiences following the
introduction of social media applications. !
❖ Classical music audiences as ageing and middle class (
On Publics and Networked Publics
❖ Publics have many conceptions,
purposes and uses.!
❖ centring on common
understandings of a particular
space (Livingstone 2005); !
❖ deliberative spaces
(Habermas 1991); !
❖ sites of domination, exclusion
and regulation that can
counterpublics (Fraser 1990).
On Publics and Networked Publics
❖ Johnson (1997) Characteristics of Communications in Computer Based Networks!
❖ in reproducibility – information can easily be reproduced with digital media -
information can be recorded, it can observed and it is persistent;!
❖ scope – electronic networks (such as chat rooms) can offer greater reach in terms of
information sharing in contrast to physical networks (such as meeting in a coffee shop); !
❖ and anonymity – individuals can communicate with digital media by using pseudonyms.!
❖ boyd (2008) Networked Publics!
❖ replicability - expressions can be copied from one place to another verbatim; !
❖ persistence - communications are recorded for posterity; !
❖ invisible audiences – it can not be fully known who may engage with content in such
❖ and searchability – information can be easier to find due to indexing and search facilities.
Disconnective Practice (Light 2014; Light and Cassidy 2014)
❖ Geographies of Disconnection!
❖ Disconnectors !
❖ Disconnection Modes!
❖ Ethics of Disconnection!
❖ Disconnective Power!
❖ Strategies - Prevention of Connection!
❖ Strategies - Suspension of Connection
Sociology of Translation - Callon
❖ Problematisation – the rendering of a situation as a problem that involves
the interdefinition of actors in such as way that one actor becomes
indespensible – an obligatory passage point.!
❖ Interessement – the actions by which something or someone attempts to
stablise the definition of other actors in relation to problematisation.
Attempting to you identify with the role I have set out for you in relation
to my problem.!
❖ Enrolment – the process of negotiation that seeks to have actors persuaded
to act out the role that is being set for them in relation to the problem.!
❖ Mobilisation – whereby actors are moved to speak on behalf of the
❖ App analysis - e.g. (Light and McGrath 2008)!
❖ 7 Focus Groups with 18-25 year olds (81 Participants)!
❖ 68 pre-focus group questionnaires!
❖ 3 Interviews (App developer and LSO Staff)!
❖ Attendance at LSO concerts
Making the App
The overall aim for the [new]
student scheme is to remove some
of the barriers to attendance for
students by discounting tickets,
incentivizing coming as a group of
friends and increasing repeat
attendance through a structured
loyalty scheme… The app is aimed
at university and college students
aged 18 plus, to roughly 25,
although we have no upper age
limit, based in and around London.
Encouraging Engagement with Digital Networks?
❖ What I’m most excited about is that
because the app will be the link to
Facebook and Twitter and you can send
out information by email straight away
from the app so the close connection
with social networks could be a huge
❖ But I think the more options you have
on the app the more liable it is to break
down and just not work anymore. I’d
rather have something that’s minimally
functional, reliable than something that
has tons of options…
Focus Group Member
Barriers to Digital Engagement?
If I’m honest I think your target audience is more going to be
people…young people who are already interested in music I
don’t think you have much chance of um’… interesting people
um’ into coming to concerts who aren’t already interested in
music, because I think that interest comes from a much younger
I'm an American and in the sixth grade we're all required to pick a
musical instrument and participate in concert band and we
played a lot of classical music there. I did that until last year.!
Basically my parents dragged me to opera until I started to like it.
Engaging with Classical Music
FG4P1: It’s [pop music] the most inane
bullshit [laughter]. If you want someone
telling you the most ridiculous things that just
passes across the stream of consciousness then
listen to main stream music, I really fail to see
the intellectual insight that music offers, but...!
FG4P3: It’s good for clubbing.!
FG4P1: It’s not an intellectual type of thing. !
FG4P3: It’s got a time and a place.!
FG4P1: A pretty limited one at that.!
Engaging with Classical Music
Yeah, ‘cos you can’t sort of explain a
symphony movement in a two minute
I think also with classical music you need
some kind of...you need to kind of invest
intellectually, it’s not pop.!
I suppose that’s a big difference
compared with pop or other types of
music, in that you actually need to be
able to concentrate for an extended
period of time, whereas I think that
emphasis is completely missing in other
Supporting Engagement in Venue
because tonight I was seated behind this young couple
and at the beginning of the concert they were very lovey-dovey,
and I was also right next to...this...older lady, who
obviously attends classical...I mean she was dressed to the
nines and everything, and when they were doing that
[being ‘lovey- dovey’] within like, the first three minutes,
she like tapped the girl's shoulder and she was like
Supporting Engagement in Venue
FG4P1: You only make the mistake of clapping when you shouldn’t once
FG4P2: And we’ve all done it as well.!
FG4P3: Mine was three concerts ago, three concerts ago was my first classical
FG4P1: The experience of being the one person clapping when there’s 800 other
people not clapping.!
I really don’t think we should be encouraging people to mess about with their
phones in concerts… please…!
❖ Apps may provide a useful mechanism
for selling discounted tickets, but
shows little indication of being a useful
means of expanding this audience
beyond its traditional demographic.!
❖ Limits of the digital to translate
❖ Networked publics as political and
exclusionary and as reinforcing
structural arrangements through
❖ Culture as simultaneously enabling
disconnection and connection with the
❖ This presentation is based on the following outputs:!
❖ Crawford, G., Gosling, V., Bagnall, G., & Light, B. (2014). An orchestral audience: Classical music
and continued patterns of distinction. Cultural Sociology, Online First, 1-18. doi:
❖ Crawford, G., Gosling, V., Bagnall, G., & Light, B. (2014). Is there an app for that? A case study of the
potentials and limitations of the participatory turn and networked nublics for classical music
audience engagement. Information, Communication and Society, Online First, 1-14. doi:
❖ Crawford, G., Gosling, V., Bagnall, G., & Light, B. (2013). Pulse: The London Symphony Orchestra
Students Mobile Project. AHRC, Arts Council and NESTA, UK. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/63460!
❖ Light, B. (2014) Disconnecting with Social Networking Sites, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.
❖ Light, B., & Cassidy, E. (2014). Strategies for the suspension and prevention of connection:
Rendering disconnection as socioeconomic lubricant with Facebook. New Media and Society, Online
First, 1-16. doi:10.1177/1461444814544002