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Everyday life and energy demand during UK greenfield and urban music festivals

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2023
Number of pages237
Awarding Institution
Award date12/01/2023
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Environmental sustainability at music festivals has been a focus of both academic and industry concern in recent years. However, work to improve sustainability, and address carbon emissions arising from energy demand at festivals, has predominantly focused upon the quantification of energy use at greenfield festivals and designing behaviour change interventions for festival organisers to implement. Rather than seeking to quantify the outcomes (energy use and carbon emissions) of what people do, I adopt a practice theory approach in order to open up new areas for consideration and ask questions about the composition of music festivals and the dynamics of their energy demand that have been under- addressed or overlooked in existing work. I adopt a multi-methods approach, comprising interviews with people involved in organising and running music festivals, observations of two greenfield and three urban music festivals and research into secondary sources on the history of greenfield music festivals.
I argue that everyday life at greenfield festivals is made up of varied, interconnected and dynamic social practices that have evolved through repeated performances both at and outside of festivals. I also demonstrate that materiality is central to the performance of these practices, arguing that it is crucial to understand the provisioning of materials as it sequences and recursively shapes the performance of everyday life practices. I also consider how the various material settings in which everyday life is enacted during music festivals also affects everyday life. Exploring how everyday life is lived during both UK greenfield and urban music festivals generates insights into how festival organisers attend to the energy demanding practices of festival-goers, resulting in disproportionate attention to the (un)sustainability of greenfield festivals. By investigating how energy use arises from the performance of everyday life practices, my research takes a step towards understanding the social embeddedness of the energy demand of music festivals. This indicates possible directions of change in the provision for and performances of practices at greenfield music festivals and points to the recursive relationships between different aspects of festival-goer and festival organiser provisioning and marketplace competition that are driving this change.