Tobias Malm
Works at Department of Education
Telephone 08-120 763 46
Visiting address Frescativägen 54
Room 1524
Postal address Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Tobias Malm is a PhD-student in education, music teacher, teacher educator and hobby musician. He has his master degree and parts of his teacher education from this department and has also studied at Stockholms Musikpedagogiska Institut (Stockholm Institute of Music Education), Musikhögskolan i Piteå (Piteå College of Music) and Luleå Tekniska Universitet (Luleå University of Technology). He is affiliated to the research group Organisationspedagogik (organizational pedagogy) here and is also a member of Stockholmsgruppen, which is an external research network for music and music education in Stockholm.


Tobias researches self-organizing with a special focus on small groups within music life and their work "behind the scenes". This relatively unexplored area constitutes a borderland – between civil society and market, leisure and work, as well as hobby and professionalism – which is increasingly highlighted for its importance for development in cultural life and creative industries, in Sweden and internationally.

The foundation of popular music can be regarded as a multitude of voluntary and self-organized networks and groups. Many of these small organizations are formed during leisure time, with aspirations, however, of establishing their enterprise within some part of the cultural life. This creates the conditions for reaching out to a wider audience, reaching artistic recognition and being able to devote a greater part of their life to the music. But working on a more semiprofessional level also poses major challenges as these groups are usually governed more by lust and creativity, than by economy and formal leadership.

Tobias PhD project explores rock bands based on internal social conditions to function and develop as a group. The overarching aim is to develop knowledge on what it means for bands to go from amateur to semiprofessional. The empirical material is collected with an ethnographic approach during 4 years. Several rock bands in Stockholm at different levels have been studied based on 1) observations of everyday work, mainly in the form of internal interactions during rehearsals, meetings and online chats, but also outward activities such as live performances and marketing on social media, and 2) interviews with band members, both individually and in groups. Various aspects of the results are subsequently reported in a number of articles that highlight organizing, identity formation and learning, as socio-cultural and interactionistic phenomena.

Malm, T. (2018), ”Recognizing the practitioner-self: Lessons from studying rock bands at-home”, Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 7 Issue: 2, pp.135-146.

Malm, T. & Thunborg, C. (2018), "Från källarband till småföretag – kreativitet och entreprenörskap i popband" [From garage band to small business – Creativity and entrepreneurship in a pop band], in Granberg, O. & Ohlsson, J. (eds.), Den lärande organisationen 2.0, Lund: Studentlitteratur. pp. 97–125.

Malm, T. (2017), “Becoming a rock band: The challenges of group identity”, Journal of Popular Music Education, 1:2, pp. 165–182, doi: 10.1386/jpme.1.2.165_1

Malm, T. (2015), “Organiseringsprocesser i ett popband: bakom kulisser och mellan människor” [Processes of organizing in a pop band: behind the scenes and between people], Master’s thesis, Stockholm University: Department of Education, Available:

Conference presentations

“Plantskola för vad? Folkbildningens funktion och betydelse för den svenska musikbranschen” [A Nursery for what? Popular Education’s Function and Meaning for the Swedish Music Industries], Conference presentation w. Aron Schoug, MIMER (Nationellt program för folkbildningsforskning), Folkhögskolan Hvilan, Nov 2018

 “Från album till låtar: konsekvenser för lärande i internt bandarbete” [From album to songs: consequences for learning in internal band work], Conference presentation, MIRAC (Music-focused Interdisciplinary Research and Analysis Center), Royal College of Music, Nov 2017

 “Pop- och rockband: De multipla gruppidentiteternas utmaningar” [Pop and rock bands: the challenges of multiple group identities] Conference presentation, MIRAC (Music-focused Interdisciplinary Research and Analysis Center), Royal College of Music, Nov 2016

Last updated: November 8, 2018

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