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Never Mind the Scholar, Here's the Old Punk: Identity, Community, and the Aging Music Fan

Studies in Symbolic Interaction

ISBN: 978-1-78190-056-7, eISBN: 978-1-78190-057-4

Publication date: 10 October 2012


Purpose – Research on punk culture often falls prey to three main dilemmas. First, an ageist bias exists in most popular music research, resulting in the continued equating of music and youth. Second, punk culture research often uses a Marxist economic lens that implies fieldwork reveals already known conceptions of class and culture. Third, research on punk culture lacks ethnographic and narrative examinations. This ethnographic project explores my reentry into punk culture as an adult, exploring it from a new researcher perspective. It provides an insider's view of emerging cultural themes at the site that disrupts these traditional research approaches.

Methodology/approach – This ethnography examines punk culture at an inner city nonprofit arts establishment. Through grounded theory and using a fictional literary account, this research probes how rituals and cultural narratives pervade and maintain the scene.

Findings – Concepts such as carnival, jamming as an organizing process – and as an aesthetic moment – emerged through the research process. This ethnography found narratives constituted personal and communal identity.

Research limitations/implications – As a personal ethnography, this research contains experiences in one local arts center, and therefore is not necessarily generalizable to other sites or experiences.

Originality/value of paper – Using ethnography, I explored punk as one of my primary identities in tandem with younger members of the scene. It critiques Marxist and youth approaches that have stunted music scene research for decades.



Herrmann, A.F. (2012), "Never Mind the Scholar, Here's the Old Punk: Identity, Community, and the Aging Music Fan", Denzin, N.K. (Ed.) Studies in Symbolic Interaction (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 39), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 153-170.



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