Hierarchy through Anarchy : performing punk and the outline to a theory of scene

University essay from Lunds universitet/Sociologi

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to analyze and theorize punk and to investigate how punk is being performed. But also to counter previous descriptions of punk as a subculture, counter-culture or field and present the outline to a theory of scene. The question at issue in this study is: how can punk be described theoretically? This study is divided into acts. The first act introduces the reader to the subject, the purpose of the study and the key concepts used. The second act deals with the methodological considerations. In act three the Birmingham School's subcultural theory and Pierre Bourdieu's notion of field and capital are outlined. Act four is the first theoretical act which introduces the reader to the concept of scene. Thereafter the properties - the markers of distinction - of the scene are presented in act five. Act six deals with the stratification of the scene. The final theoretical act is devoted to the role of production in this stratification. Act eight involves the concluding remarks. Throughout this study punk is described, based on Erwin Goffman, as a performance, punk, it is argued, is a scene based on a few general themes which are subjectively interpreted into rules and manifested through the use of properties. The conclusions presented in this paper are that field and subculture are not enough to describe punk, as these concepts are not flexible enough and do not take into enough consideration the individual. The concept of scene involves seeing the individual as an actor who creates the structuring not the opposite. There is no true punk instead commitment and the subsequent stratification is based on how the actors perform within the scene. Punk relies on the actors' desire for distinct positions therefore the manifestations of punk are subject to change as the actors reinterpret the themes in order to maintain or better their positions. Punk is a subjective performance disguised as something general as the actors adhere to the general themes and negotiate, create and reproduce meaning. There is thus a link between the actors' performances and the structuring of the scene as the scene provides the actors' distinctions with a meaning. Scenes are always in motion as the themes and the structuring of the scene are reproduced as the actors interact and react toward each other. Punk, it is concluded, is not a question of what you do; it is merely a question of how you do it.

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