Date of Award

5-22-2016

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

American Studies

First Advisor

Cotten Seiler

Language

English

Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to deconstruct contemporary “Do-It-Yourself” punk rock subculture in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by presenting the inconsistencies of the subculture’s ideas and practices. The study employs cultural studies ethnography and uses personal and published interviews of major players in the Philadelphia music scene, including punk house inhabitants, musicians, and concert organizers. Respondents’ testimonies are combined with readings of media texts from Philadelphia punks’ cultural production, such as lyrics and punk house concerts. In this essay, three arguments highlight the subculture’s central inconsistencies. The first section explains the argument that DIY punk is a mythic construct. In prioritizing “authenticity” and romanticizing punk’s historical narrative, DIY punks mythologize a presumed anti-commercial DIY ethic, relying on constructs that exist only in their imaginations. The second section focuses on how capitalist ideologies infiltrate the DIY punk realm, as the two fields cannot exist separately. The third section highlights DIY punks’ engagement in processes of self-marginalization that appropriate a racialized “Other” in low-income neighborhoods of Philadelphia. This thesis hopes to shed light on the nuances of “Do-It-Yourself” punk rock and reimagine punk’s resistive potential.

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