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Methodological strategies and challenges in research with small heavy metal scenes: A reflection on entrance, evolution and permanence

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Research on small heavy metal (HM) scenes throughout the world has mostly used ethnographic and qualitative approaches to richly describe the scene and its members. As these research efforts continue to grow around the world, methodological strategies have the opportunity to become more pluralistic and tailored to particular settings. In this article, we highlight and discuss the methodological strategies implemented by our team when engaging in research with small HM scenes in the Caribbean region and discuss the benefits and challenges of such an approach. We discuss the implementation of a mixed-methods design using ethnographic observation, qualitative interviews, surveys and documentary film-making as techniques for data gathering and sharing. We discuss this process through three stages: (1) entrance (implications for the initial incursion within these small scenes); (2) evolution (the expansion of research possibilities once communal involvement is achieved); and (3) permanence (giving back to the community via systematic sharing of study results). As research with small scenes throughout the world continues to expand, we understand that scholars will benefit from frequent discussions on the methodological components of their studies. We propose that this discussion should not aim to establish a static set of rules on how to engage in research in these scenarios but, on the contrary, foster the development of living guidelines that can be modified as research ventures expand throughout the world.
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Keywords: Caribbean; community; heavy metal; mixed methods; research methods; scenes

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Florida International University 2: University of Puerto Rico 3: Ponce Health Sciences University

Publication date: 01 September 2016

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  • Metal Music Studies is the journal of the International Society for Metal Music Studies.

    The aims of the journal are:
    • To provide an intellectual hub for the International Society of Metal Music Studies and a vehicle to promote the development of metal music studies;
    • To be the focus for research and theory in metal music studies – a multidisciplinary (and interdisciplinary) subject field that engages with a range of parent disciplines, including (but not limited to) sociology, musicology, humanities, cultural studies, geography, philosophy, psychology, history, natural sciences;
    • To publish high-quality, world-class research, theory and shorter articles that cross over from the industry and the scene;
    • To be a world leader in interdisciplinary studies and be a unique resource for metal music studies.
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