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For PhD Students

The Song and Dance Celebration is a unique part of Latvian culture. Around 87% of the Latvian population have participated in this national celebration at some point in their lives. The emotionally saturated event has received a lot of attention from researchers over the years, but this has usually been more focused on various preconditions for passing this tradition on through the generations.

Līga Vinogradova, a young researcher at Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) and a lecturer at the Latvian Academy of Culture, has, on the other hand, devoted her doctoral studies to looking into the importance that emotions play in transmitting this tradition. Vinogradova has already successfully defended her doctoral thesis “The Role of Emotions in Sustaining and Transmitting the Song and Dance Celebration” under the supervision of Professor Anda Laķe and has obtained doctoral degree in sociology.


Foto: Aija Lūse, Latvijas Kultūras akadēmija

Vinogradova started to focus on the Song and Dance Celebration seven years ago. She started by taking a closer look at everyday efforts to attract and involve choirs and dance groups as an important element of sustaining and transmitting the tradition. ‘Although the week of the Song and Dance Celebration is the culmination of the five-year cycle, everyday efforts during the interim are what actually promotes participants' involvement in the tradition, thus allowing it to be passed on. Participants’ feelings are another significant aspect of my research: although the week that the celebrations take place produces powerful emotions, it is only one of multiple events. The real motivation comes from the positive emotions that people receive from rehearsals, concerts and other informal activities,’ says Vinogradova. 

Vinogradova explains that she had already identified that emotions play an important role in the Song and Dance Celebration in her earlier research projects, but was not able to draw comprehensive conclusions due to having a different focus and methodology. This is why she decided to devote her doctoral thesis to this specific topic. The aim of the thesis was to identify the role of emotions in the Song and Dance Celebration tradition and in the everyday activities that amateur art groups participate in between each celebration. She also wanted to identify the preconditions for emotions to promote the sustainability and transmission of the tradition. In order to clarify and achieve the above, the young researcher set the following tasks for heself within her doctoral thesis:

  • find methods to study emotions in sociology;
  • find out the characteristics of the Song and Dance Celebration as a tradition in social sciences and humanities;
  • study the everyday activities of amateur art groups and the dynamics of emotions in these activities;
  • study the meaning and dynamics of emotions in the Song and Dance 
  • Celebration events;
  • identify the preconditions for the Song and Dance Celebration to be 
  • a successful interaction ritual;
  • clarify good practices for creating positive emotions in everyday practices and celebration events.

From a perspective of the sociology of emotions, emotions can appear as a driving force in social interactions, therefore the celebration is analysed as an interaction ritual in which long-term emotions motivate people to participate. This study clearly shows that the Song and Dance Celebration is the emotional culmination for participants from amateur art groups, which is achieved by charging emotions through everyday practices,’ says the researcher. In the empirical study, Vinogradova observed 14 amateur art groups, conducted 37 photo-elicitations and 15 in-depth interviews with members of these groups and their leaders. Her conclusions include a sociological understanding of emotions, examining the Song and Dance Celebration from a perspective of social sciences and humanities, analysing celebration as an interaction of rituals, as well as various methodological findings on adapting the theory of interaction rituals to researching emotions. She has added a number of recommendations for the carriers of the tradition to the dissertation for how to maintain and develop positive emotions and attract participants in the long run. Professor Laķe, the dissertation’s supervisor, emphasises how novel this research is the approbation of visual research methods in the examination of cultural phenomena.

Currently, nine doctoral students are studying in the Sociology doctoral study programme at RSU, and Vinogradova's research is the first thesis developed in this field this year. RSU is implementing eight doctoral study programmes in total. Although, doctoral students in medicine and pharmacy are traditionally more active, intense research is also being conducted in the field of social sciences and humanities, e.g. law, political science, communications, culture and multimedia, psychology and management.