Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Ethnographic Exploration of Hardcore Punk, Commodification, and the Reclamation of Social Margins
by James, Alexander Robert, M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2012, 84; 13833829
Abstract (Summary)

This work is a study of the contemporary hardcore punk scene of Northern California. Through a phenomenological and multi-sited ethnographic approach which includes interviews of .scene members' and participant observation, it explores the discourse, practices, and sensibilities of the scene and its relevance to the larger culture from which it stems. Specifically, this explores the relation between scene members and practices of mainstream consumer society and how subcultural, personal, and group identities are established and maintained within these interrelated contexts.

Scene members are discussed in terms of their employment of a particular set of strategies for coping with the commodification of music and identity that occurs in the interaction between consumer culture and the subculture of the scene. In particular this work explores the notion that a process of reterritorializing social spaces, consumer goods and music, is a key way in which the scene, and its constituent members, reclaim a meaningful sense of identity that may be threatened, marginalized, or otherwise undermined by processes of commodification. This practice of reterritorialization is supported by a strategic embrace, and cultivation, of liminal states of being. The term liminality is based on Arnold van Gennep's work in Les rites de passage, in which liminal is taken from limen, Latin for 'threshold', describing rituals of 'transition rites', consisting of phases of separation, transition, and incorporation.

What becomes of significance in this work is the middle phase of this ritual, where scene members appear to linger as liminal personae or 'threshold people'. This .strategic liminality' is a practice that represents a resistance to commodification and allows for alternative identities, as counterpoints to mainstream consumer society, to be forged within the scene, which comes to be thought of as a 'cultural site' of identity creation, and an interstice between mainstream society and a fixed subcultural identity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hayward, Mark
School: The American University of Paris (France)
Department: Cultural Translation
School Location: France
Source: MAI 58/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Sociology, Ethnic studies
Publication Number: 13833829
ISBN: 978-0-438-79581-5
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