Research

Culture, Education, Technology, Labor, Urban Communities, Inequality

Carey Sargent Experience Music Project

Presenting “Trappin’ in the Best Place to Live: Rap and Resistance in a Guilded College Town at Experiment Music Project, Seattle.


My research examines the economic role of culture and knowledge in informational capitalism. I’ve studied how cultural workers use social media, how cities deploy local culture to entice the creative class, how workers in culture and knowledge industries negotiate status and authority, and how musicians are building locally rooted, globally mediated music communities.

I’m currently in the early stages of project that investigates the experiences of contingent faculty and what they can tell us about the state of undergraduate education. I’m posting parts of my research process here in this series as an experiment in scholarly public engagement and data sharing.

Below are links to some of my publications and an abstract of my dissertation.

Sargent, Carey, Rachel Thompson, and Wendy Hsu. 2012. “Performance Art at the (Virginia) Margins: Anthony Restivo’s Far off and all AflameThe Drama Review 56(2): 178-184. [Read Abstract…]

Sargent, Carey. 2010. “Noise in Action: The Sonic (De)Construction of Art WorldsStudies in Symbolic Interaction, edited by Norman K. Denzin 35: 179-200. [Read Abstract…]

Sargent, Carey. 2009. “Playing, Shopping, and Working as Rock Musicians: Masculinities in “Deskilled” and “Re-skilled” Organizations.” Gender & Society 23: 665-687. [Read Abstract…]

Sargent, Carey. 2009. “Local Musicians Building Global Audiences: Social Capital and the Distribution of User-Created Content On- and Off-Line.” Information, Communication & Society 12: 469-487. [Read Abstract…]

Hsu, Wendy and Carey Sargent. 2008. “Rocking Out Between the Local and the Global: Transnational Independent Music Industry in TaiwanAmalgam. 2(2):39-52. [Read first paragraph…]

iMusic: Living and Working as Musicians in Digital Captialism
In the midst of overall decline in the United States economy, information and communication industries continued to grow in 2008, accounting for 30% of the increase in the nation’s GDP. Creative and copyright-based industries constitute a significant portion of this industry. The anomaly of growth in digital culture industries amidst overall decline has lead to the belief that a new form of digital capitalism – mediated, populist, and creative – will solve problems of economic development and maintain social diversity. Scholarly research has examined the union of creative industries with economic forces, but has yet to examine how digital technologies mediate this relationship. Through an ethnographic account of independent music production in two small American cities, I examine how digital capitalism shapes the life chances of cultural workers who use digital technologies to build their own networks of production and distribution. Among creative industries, interactive media has most radically reorganized the music industry, challenging the viability of it centralized distribution channels. Treating independent musicians working outside of this industry as my key informants, I ask 1) how is musical work resourced and rewarded and 2) which social forces organize access to musical representation? I build an inductive analysis of the networked organizational structure of independent music production. I theorize independent musicians as an emergent type of creative worker – one who is embedded in networks of other entrepreneurs that are organized by shared cultural meanings. To build such networks, these workers invest their own capital and are dependent upon local resources and ability to travel. In this way, I show that there are possibilities for a wide range of people to forge their own careers, yet these possibilities continue to be structured by class and geography. Through my account, I build an empirical foundation for understanding how creative production is organized, valued, and accessed in digital capitalism.