American Sociological Association

Portland Oregon, Music Scenes, and Change: A Cultural Approach to Collective Strategies of Empowerment

This article highlights the role of the independent music culture of Portland, Oregon, in establishing a productive culture of consumption and spaces that contribute to the place character of the city. Derived from an ethnographic research project of urban culture and social change in Portland, Oregon, guided interviews and extended participant observation helped to bring to light the cultural economy that artists and musicians make for the city. The cultural production of Portlanders in the indie music community, and those who work and produce in neighborhood settings, has served the city in the most recent period of rapid gentrification. Many scholars have focused on the way bohemian concentrations have led to gentrification; others have highlighted the contingent labor that art makers provide. What I argue here is as the city develops in these ways, artisanal workers and music makers work to use their established networks and situated meaning in the city to fend off these processes and extend their presence in space. Through these collective strategies of empowerment, culture and music move into political discourse and affect political action on the city level.

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Jeffrey London





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