Everyone Is Musical: a contemporary ethnography of ‘third-wave’ ukulele musicking, online and offline

Winston, Emma. 2022. Everyone Is Musical: a contemporary ethnography of ‘third-wave’ ukulele musicking, online and offline. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Everyone Is Musical: a contemporary ethnography of ‘third-wave’ ukulele musicking, online and offline)
MUS_thesis_WinstonE_2022.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (3MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This thesis aims to deepen understanding of ukulele players’ activity during the instrument’s ‘third wave’ of popularity, beginning around the new millennium. This activity is especially rich at the grassroots level, but limitations exist in its prior scholarship, which is largely restricted to North America, and to groups with relatively stable memberships, which do not target particular demographics, and which meet predominantly in offline, synchronous, spatial contexts. This thesis’s primary focus is English ukulele social worlds, which are highly active and comparatively underexamined. Equally important, however, is the third wave’s intimate relationship with the internet, inevitably complicating its geographical focus. Influenced by earlier scholars at the intersection of ethnomusicology and popular music studies, such as Finnegan, Shank, and Cohen, the thesis’s methodology combines multi-sited participant-observation with semi-structured interviews and an open-ended questionnaire. Its analysis, adopting Stebbins’s ‘social worlds’ and Finnegan’s more dynamic ‘pathways’ as structuring principles, takes particular interest in self-identity, both in terms of players’ broader social identities, and their self-identification as musicians. Where Shank applies a psychoanalytically-informed framework to participant identity, this thesis is informed by humanistic psychological models, suggesting participation in the ukulele’s social worlds is enabled through practices cultivating non-judgment, non-directivity, and what Carl Rogers calls ‘unconditional positive regard’, which may replace conventional metrics of musical valuation. This thesis proposes that the ukulele’s third-wave social worlds and pathways are marked by flexibility, allowing participants to pursue individual musical ‘desire lines’ (extending Finnegan’s ‘pathways’ metaphor), in contexts which are neither uncomplicatedly collective nor solitary, mirroring the convergence between online and offline which characterises contemporary life. This, in turn, enables participants to bring their real and ideal musical selves into closer congruence, and may appeal particularly to players previously excluded from musical practice and performance.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Ukulele, Music, Popular Music Studies, Community Music, Ethnomusicology, Ethnography, Musicking, Social Worlds, Subcultures, Scenes, Pathways, Unconditional Positive Regard, Person-Centred Psychotherapy, Identity, Internet Music, Social Media, YouTube

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



30 June 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

04 Jul 2022 15:05

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:20



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)