The small world of British post-punk
in Networks of sound, style and subversion
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This chapter suggests that the network of Britain's post-punk world between 1976 and 1980 involved elements of network structures. It begins by looking to complexity science, a branch of academic inquiry which precisely addresses the question of coordination in very large systems, from insect swarms to neural networks. The chapter discusses two theories of network structure which show how very large networks are sometimes characterised by relatively short average path lengths, a property which, in turn, makes effective, efficient coordination and diffusion possible. One of these theories, posited by Duncan Watts, hypothesises a structure involving numerous dense clusters, connected by 'weak ties'. Watts's model envisages small world networks as tightly integrated clusters. The other, posited by Albert-Lászlo Barabási, suggests a structure centred upon a small number of hubs, each with a huge number of connections to other nodes in the network.

Networks of sound, style and subversion

The punk and post-punk worlds of Manchester, London, Liverpool and Sheffield, 1975–80


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