This book argues that punk and post-punk, whatever their respective internal stylistic heterogeneity, enjoyed 'sociological reality' in Samuel Gilmore's and Howard Becker's sense. It elaborates the concept of 'music worlds', contrasting it with alternatives from the sociological literature. In particular it contrasts it with the concepts 'subculture', 'scene' and 'field'. The book then outlines a number of concepts which allow us to explore the localised process in which punk took shape in a sociologically rigorous manner. In particular it discusses the concepts of 'critical mass' and 'social networks'. The book also applies these concepts to the London punk world of 1976. It considers how talk about punk migrated from face-to-face networks to mass media networks and the effects of that shift. Continuing the discussion of punk's diffusion and growth, the book considers how punk worlds took shape in Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield. In addition, however, the book offers a more technical analysis of the network structures of the post-punk worlds of the three cities. Furthermore, extending this analysis, and combining qualitative and quantitative forms of analysis, the book considers how activities in different local post-punk worlds were themselves linked in a network, constituting a national post-punk world.
In the previous chapter I suggested that punk and post-punk are best
conceived, for sociological purposes, as ‘music worlds’, a concept
I adapt from HowardBecker’s notion of ‘art worlds’ (1951, 1963,
1974, 1976, 1982, 1995, 2004, 2006a, 2006b; Faulkner and Becker
2009; see also Bottero and Crossley 2011; Finnegan 1989; Lopes 2002;
Martin 1995, 2005, 2006a, 2006b). In this chapter I elaborate upon this
concept. Before I do, however, I briefly review three alternative conceptions, explaining why I have chosen ‘music worlds’ over them. As much
In this book, drawing upon HowardBecker’s (1982) concept of ‘art
worlds’, I have conceptualised punk and post-punk as ‘music worlds’
existing both on the local, city level and also spanning towns and cities,
on a national level. Concentrating upon the 1975–80 period I have tried
1 The emergence of the first UK punk world, in London.
2 The process of diffusion which carried punk to other towns and
cities, leading to the emergence of punk worlds in those cities too.
3 The transformation of punk, in several of these worlds, into
The portrayal of tattoos in Sarah Hall’s The electric Michelangelo
and Alan Kent’s Voodoo pilchard
. This question can fruitfully be considered through recourse to HowardBecker’s sociological concept of the ‘art world’.
Becker defines an ‘art world’ as the sum total of social relationships and productive forces without whose mutual and carefully orchestrated collaboration no individual work of art could be created or distributed to an audience (Becker 2008 : 35). The concept of the art world helps to overhaul the longstanding, romantic notion that works of art are the unique products of the individual aesthetic geniuses who produce them
discussions with them into the wee hours, and investing the unmeasurable labor of love (of art) and the labor of producing process. This investment includes critical work that does not always surface in the exhibition materials like the catalogue and guide
(Yúdice 2003 : 327–28).
The importance of this type of labour usually remains unnoticed as no authorial credits are attributed to the support personnel, a category proposed by HowardBecker to denote groups of people whose labour is
Testimonial knowledge as ongoing memory transmission
refusal to be subsumed by the abyss’ ( Memory effects , p. 4).
The term is derived from HowardBecker's notion of ‘moral entrepreneurs’ (HowardBecker, Outsiders: studies in the sociology of deviance (New York: Free Press, 1973)). That notion originally described a subject seeking to influence a group to adopt or maintain a norm, for example the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) who created awareness and generated reforms to the
HowardBecker, Pierre Bourdieu and other sociologists of art assert (Becker 1984 ; Bourdieu 1996 ), artists are able to indulge in infinite ideation because they are partially sheltered from the administrative pressures or other organisational necessities by people occupying the ‘subsidiary positions of organizers, advisers, negotiators’. In other words, the autonomy of artists derives from the → labour of love of multitudes of technicians, assistants, curators, etc., who administer, produce, distribute and organise artistic production.
in contemporary sociology. In particular, it is a perspective which is
developed in HowardBecker’s Art Worlds (1982), a work which, as
will become evident, I believe to be an enormously fruitful source
for the sociology of cultural production.
Sociologists who have pursued these matters in recent years have
come to converge on an approach that is not primarily concerned
with the deciphering of texts, or with the ‘style’, or indeed with
deciding the ‘quality’, of the music in question. Rather, their main
interest is in what people do with
of imposture as merely deviant activity or a pathological lie (pseudologia
phantastica). The labelling theory as originally proposed by HowardBecker
encourages us to focus on the contexts in which the label ‘impostor’ and its
related variants were applied and offers some useful thoughts to examine the
relationship between ‘impostor’ and community and the process of social
definition. Although the theory is not primarily understood here in a
Foucaultian sense that authorities create deviant behaviour, there is clearly a
difference between being labelled an
Investigation (Dublin: Government
Stationery Office, 1993).
North Western Health Board Review Group, West of Ireland Farmer Case: Report of the
Review Group (Dublin: Government Stationery Office, 1998).
These questions are based on questions that were offered first in Charles Ragin and HowardBecker, What Is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1992), p. 231.
For fuller elaboration of issues involved here see Keenan, Child Sexual Abuse.
Hannah Arendt, The Portable Hannah Arendt (New York: Penguin Classics, 2000).