Neo-Tribes pp 169-184 | Cite as

Reconciling Neo-Tribes and Individualism: The Transcendence and Construction of Self Through Peak Music Experiences

  • Ben Green


Many music fans narrate their relationships to music and their lives more broadly by reference to specific, memorable experiences with music, which I call peak music experiences. Based on ethnographic research in local music scenes in Brisbane, Australia, this chapter details how peak music experiences provide insight into musical sociality. They are central to taste-based belonging, beyond preferences for particular music, by anchoring preferred ways of experiencing music, selves and others. The focus on shared, affective responses to music, explored through collective rituals such as gigs and clubbing, highlights the neo-tribal aspects of music scene participation. However, while peak music experiences are by definition transient and transcendent, they can have lasting significance for everyday identity and enduring solidarity, including as a key resource for the construction of coherent self-narratives. Accordingly, peak music experiences show how neo-tribal sociality interacts with reflexive, rationalistic individualism, contributing to the reconciliation of these theoretical models. The shared narratives of peak music experiences give specific, discursive shape to both the affective and rational parameters of music scene belonging.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ben Green
    • 1
  1. 1.Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural ResearchGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia

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