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The social rhythm of the rock music festival

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 November 2015

Aksel Tjora*
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Sociology and Political Science, N-7491 Trondheim, Norway E-mail:


On the basis of observational studies in a number of rock music festivals during the period 2004–2012, I ask the following question in this paper: how does the music festival community arise and how is it maintained? With the help of perspectives from interactionist sociology and organisational studies I develop an analysis of how rock music festival ‘skills’ are collectively produced. A communally acknowledged competence is negotiated and made explicit by means, among other things, of the synchronisation of a daily rhythm that becomes common to many festivals. The present analysis will employ a close description of this rhythm's phases, and how transitions between them are interactively negotiated. While rock music festivals certainly celebrate fandom, this paper draws attention to processes that build strong senses of community between participants while joining together in the camping site, outside stage areas. The social rhythm, as it is interactively and artfully produced between participants, makes the festival recognisable as a festival, and attractive as a social event. A profound sense of connectedness between participants is to be found between the tents in the festival camp.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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