Aaron Klassen


Assistant Professor of Sociology

I am a born and raised Winnipegger. I received my BA (Hons) at the University of Winnipeg (2008), MA at University of Manitoba (2012), and PhD from Carleton University (2018), all in Sociology. My main research interest centers on the relationship between music and social change, approaching it from a cultural sociological perspective to explore the ways in which music is experienced throughout life and how that life has changed as a result. Past projects have considered popular music scenes, like punk and indie, and the biographies of ground-breaking performers, like Canada's first hip-hopper nominated for Grammy's (2004, 2006), Rob "Fresh IE" Wilson -- also from Winnipeg.

Major themes include music and mental health, cross-cultural reconciliation, youth and aging, and reflexive collaborative methods.

My current research expands on musical self-transformation to consider the ways in which education is self-transformative. My funded pilot project, Shelter U, explores the dynamics of education and social change in the lives of formerly displaced clients living in inner-city emergency shelter housing. Shelter U bridges gaps between the emergency shelter and its client-students, and the university and its instructors. For credit, university-level courses and modules highlight decolonized, experiential learning and topics cover a range of disciplinary backgrounds, including literature and trauma, race and Christianity, and art and music sociology.

As director of Community and Urban Transformation studies and faculty member in Behavioural Studies, I teach courses in Sociology, Social Theory, and the Capstone Integration. Areas of interest include Urban Sociology, Cultural and Social Theory, Interdisciplinary Methods, and Music and Sound Studies.

Prior to my academic career, I led the recklessly abandoned life of an independent musician, performing and recording with various indie bands in and around Winnipeg, and touring across the North American and (Eastern-)European continents. Today, if not in my office at work, I am at home making music with my wife and three kids.


Carleton University


Hybrid Teaching Working Group. Booth University College. Winnipeg, MB. Fall 2022 to present.

Shelter U: University for the displaced and houseless. Winnipeg, MB. Winter 2023 to present.

(2024) Shelter U: A case study of educational self-transformation in conditions of displacement


(2023) "Rob “Fresh IE” Wilson: A Socioanalysis of Musical Self-transformation" in draft.

(2015) “The Phenomenology of Authenticity: Merleau-Ponty and the 'Dissonant Sound' of The Clash,” in Jacqueline Kennelly and Stewart Poyntz (eds) A Phenomenology of Youth Cultures: Meaning and Retrieval in an Era of Globalization. London: Routledge, pp. 235-252

Conference Presentations

(2023) "What is Musical Self-Transformation?" Paper presented at the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) biennial international meeting. University of Minnesota (June 27)

(2021) "Get In To It: Toward a Conciliatory, Ethno-musi-graphic Methodology,” Paper presented at the Canadian Sociological Association annual conference. Edmonton (on-line) (May 27-June 4)

(2019) “Rob “Fresh I.E.” Wilson: A Socio-analysis of Musical-Self-Transformation,” Paper presented at the American Sociological Association annual meeting. New York (August 10-13)

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using this site, you agree to these cookies being set. To learn more, read our privacy policy.
View policyOk