The Lord of the Loops. Observations at the Club Culture DJ-Desk


  • Michaela Pfadenhauer Universität Wien



DJ, club culture, stage performance, dance music, scene, ethnography, life world analysis


The article provides a structural description of the work situation of club culture DJs. This description should convey an impression of the DJ's work seen from the perspective of the DJ himself. This intention is consistent with the concern of ethnography of imparting an idea to actors how other actors (or groups of actors, as the case may be) perceive the world (that is, the sections of the world relevant for them). As this description of the stage conditions under which the DJ works is one element in the larger mosaic of a long standing research into the club culture, it is part of an ethnographic exploration of life in youth scenes generally. Ethnography of scenes aims to achieve a perspective as though seen through the "eyes" of the actors in lieu of the pseudo-objective "overview" of the conventional social sciences that sweeps over the actors' heads. In doing this it can be shown that the DJ in the club culture has to act in a specific manner that differs from the performance of a disc jockey on the one hand or a hip hop DJ on the other; although the participants of club culture events idealize the DJ as an actor who is completely free in his decisions, he has to act as an artist who realizes his concept of party music and who furthermore has to act as an artisan who orients his action to the wishes of his clients. Only with this mixture of artistic behavior and service orientation the club culture DJ is competent to make a "good" party. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0903172


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Author Biography

Michaela Pfadenhauer, Universität Wien

Michaela PFADENHAUER is Professor of Sociology at Karlsruhe University. She is also speaker of the Research Network Sociology of Professions in the German Sociological Association. Her research interests centre on knowledge, competence, professionality, culture, and qualitative methods, with particular focus on ethnography. Recent publications include Michaela PFADENHAUER und Thomas SCHEFFER (Eds.), Profession, Habitus und Wandel [Profession, Habitus and Change], Frankfurt a.M.: Lang 2009; Michaela PFADENHAUER: Organisieren [Organizing], Wiesbaden: VS 2008; Ronald HITZLER, Anne HONER und Michaela PFADENHAUER, Posttraditionale Gemeinschaften [Posttraditional Communities], Wiesbaden: VS 2008.


How to Cite

Pfadenhauer, M. (2009). The Lord of the Loops. Observations at the Club Culture DJ-Desk. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10(3).



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