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Massimo Airoldi – IP 28.05.2018

Massimo Airoldi – IP 28.05.18

Situational factors in music consumption

According to sociologist Alan Warde, “for most folk, most of the time, most of daily life occurs in a state of distraction”. Listening to music is hardly an exception, especially in the digital age. Given the unprecedented availability of recorded music on digital devices, music is everywhere. Nevertheless, empirical evidences show that music normally represents a background soundtrack of everyday life situations – its choice depending more on situational factors than on the Kantian sake for aesthetic pleasure.

Such situational determinants of ordinary music consumption practices have been largely ignored by both sociologists and consumer researchers. On the one hand, while rightly considering the complex interplay between musical content and contexts of reception, micro-sociological perspectives to music consumption have generally overemphasized listeners’ agency and expertise. On the other hand, while fruitfully stressing the unreflexive and technological dimensions of music listening, practice-theoretical outlooks in consumer research have substantially left situations aside. This contribution aims to bridge the context-sensitiveness of sociology of listening and the focus on routinized activities and technology characterizing theories of practice. More broadly, it also represents an attempt to highlight and develop the analytical usefulness of the “neglected” situation in the study of consumer behavior.