Abstract

This project explores how street musicians interact with each other and the public and the effects that these interactions have on the social and spatial aspects of Findley Plaza, a small public park situated in Little Five Points, Atlanta. In spite of the racial, spatial, and socioeconomic tensions that have historically defined the ever-mercurial city of Atlanta, street musicians consistently perform in and around the bustling intersection of Moreland, Euclid, and McLendon Avenues. Who are these individuals, why do they busk, and why they choose to do so in such an area? Moreover, to what extent do interactions between street musicians and the public shape notions of community and place in Little Five Points? I investigated these questions via nine weeks of participant observation and 10 interviews with street musicians. I found that while a sense of community does exist among street musicians and the public, racial boundaries and a significant social power hierarchy complicate the notion of place in Findley Plaza. This research draws on Charles Rutheiser’s adaptation of Melvin Webber’s nonplace urban realm model, Setha Low’s theory of the spatialization of culture, and Victor Turner’s concepts of liminality and communitas. The sense of community that does exist between the street musicians and the public in Little Five Points speaks on behalf of the benefits to permitting street performance in public spaces, as the activity unites diverse groups of people through enjoyable shared experiences in an increasingly fragmented and gentrified urban world.

Advisor

McConnell, David

Department

Sociology and Anthropology

Disciplines

Anthropology | Civic and Community Engagement | Infrastructure | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change | Regional Sociology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sociology | Urban Studies and Planning

Publication Date

2015

Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

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© Copyright 2015 Matthew Adam Germaine