"Musicians’ Lives" Project Overview

The “Musicians' Lives” study focuses on musicians in Switzerland. The objective of the study is to better understand their personal and professional careers, as well as their individual and collective experiences related to this occupation.

In order to understand these issues in all their complexity, we will articulate the results of two parallel research studies.

Ethnographic research

The first of these two studies was launched in 2012. Based on an ethnographic approach, it primarily aims to collect very subtle information on the meaning and representations musicians confer to their practice, their life paths and their interactions with their immediate surroundings. This research was conducted by means of interviews and direct or participant observation. Through observing concerts or rehearsals, monitoring tours, organizing scores of meetings with musicians from all backgrounds and communities, the study has made it possible to outline the objective and subjective frameworks that run through French-speaking musicians’ practice.

The qualitative component of the “Musician's Lives” study was mainly conducted by Jérôme Chapuis and Frédérique Leresche, who can both boast reliable prior empirical knowledge of the French-speaking musicians’ professional world. Launched two years ago, the study is still currently in progress, and focuses on deepening the results collected during the first two years.

Collecting research information via a questionnaire

The second part of the research project  draws a more comprehensive overview of this population, by using questionnaires, amongst other methods. This research is based on an innovative method of selecting respondents, based on the use of interpersonal networks.

Research in Human Sciences has shown that, no matter where we live, we average 6 handshakes with any other person in the world. Thus, ascending chains of interpersonal relationships, one can potentially bump into any individual after five successive contacts. The idea our questionnaire research is based on is to use this characteristic inherent in any human society to study populations that are not recorded in any registry or book – and remain therefore invisible to public policy and academic research.

The practical arrangements for implementing this part of the research are detailed in the next tab (“The questionnaire survey”).

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