The Portable Community: Place and Displacement in Bluegrass Festival Life, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Portable Community

Place and Displacement in Bluegrass Festival Life, 1st Edition

By Robert Gardner


256 pages

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Hardback: 9781138496378
pub: 2020-02-29
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This book explores the various ways in which individuals use music and culture to understand and respond to changes in their natural and built environments. Drawing on over fifteen years of ethnographic fieldwork, interviews and participant observation, the author develops the thesis that the relationships, networks, and intimate forms of social interaction in the ‘portable’ community cultivated at bluegrass festival events are significant cultural formations that shape participants’ relationships to their localities. With specific attention to the ways in which the strength of these relationships are translated into meaningful sites of community identity, place, and action following devastating local floods that destroyed homes and businesses, displacing residents for years, Portable Community: Place and Displacement in Bluegrass Festival Culture sheds light on the strength of such communities when tested and under external threat.A study of the central role of arts and music in grappling with social and environmental change, including their role in facilitating disaster relief and recovery, this volume will appeal to scholars of sociology with interests in symbolic interactionism, the sociology of music, culture and the sociology of disaster.

Table of Contents


Introduction: The Quest for Community in Bluegrass Festival Culture

1. "Bluegrass Breakdown": A Brief Social History of Bluegrass Music and Festival Culture

2. "What Have They Done to The Old Home Place?": Family, Home, and Kinship in the "New" American West.

3. Welcome Home I: Building Place in the Bluegrass Festival Camp

4. Welcome Home II: Performing Place in the Vernacular Village

5. The Portable Community: Inclusion, Intimacy, and Simplicity in Bluegrass Festival Life

6. "The Festival World is So Much Better Than the Real World": Performing Self and Identity in Festival Spaces

7. "We’ve Got Grit": Community Resilience, Displacement, and Rebuilding After the Flood


Appendix A: Research Methods

Appendix B: Festival Performance as Social Drama: The Interactionism of Kenneth Burke


About the Author

Robert Gardner is Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Linfield College, USA.

About the Series

Interactionist Currents

Interactionist Currents
Interactionist Currents publishes contemporary interactionist works of exceptional quality to advance the state of symbolic interactionism. Rather than revisiting classical symbolic interactionist or pragmatist theory, however, this series extends the boundaries of interactionism by examining new empirical topics in subject areas that interactionists have not sufficiently examined; systematizing, organizing, and reflecting on the state of interactionist knowledge in subfields both central and novel within interactionist research; connecting interactionism with contemporary intellectual movements; and illustrating the contemporary relevance of interactionism in ways that are interesting, original, and enjoyable to read. Recognizing an honored and widely appreciated theoretical tradition, reflecting on its limitations, and opening new opportunities for the articulation of related perspectives and research agendas, this series presents work from across the social sciences that makes explicit use of interactionist ideas and concepts, interactionist research, and interactionist theory - both classical and contemporary.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General