Term of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Social Sciences (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

Eric Silva

Committee Member 1

William L. Smith

Committee Member 2

Howard Keeley


Although it is self-evident that people care about music, we don’t know how they make sense of their taste in it. In this study, I will explore how individuals explain their taste in music. I will specifically be focusing on the genre of Irish traditional music (ITM). One way to explore how people account for their taste in this genre is through a qualitative content analysis of online comments. I hope to demonstrate the vocabulary of motives for music preference, by focusing on how individuals account for their taste in Irish traditional music online. Also, this study will help show the role that culture plays in musical tastes by discovering whether their vocabulary includes references to Irish identity. I suspect that Irish American identity will come up as a common account for listening to this genre. The findings contribute to the theory of symbolic ethnicity (Gans 1959) by demonstrating the role it plays in the process of identity construction. My research questions are: How do people account for listening to Irish traditional music? Is there a connection between symbolic ethnicity and taste in music? I will explore these questions by examining internet comments through a qualitative content analysis.

Research Data and Supplementary Material