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

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.

recordings and virtual spaces complicate that claim). Furthermore, local identities often figured strongly in punk and postpunk worlds. The identity of the  Liverpool,  Manchester and Sheffield worlds discussed in the previous two chapters was a regional identity and often bound up with local pride. The rivalry between Liverpool and Man chester carried over to their post-punk worlds (although, as we shall see, this didn’t prevent considerable positive connection between them), for example, and a strong sense of opposition to the pretensions of London was evident in the

in Networks of sound, style and subversion
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Post-punk worlds as networks

9 Joining the dots: post-punk worlds as networks In the previous chapter I introduced the post-punk worlds of Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield, as they were in the final years of the 1970s, and I offered a preliminary analysis of them. In the present chapter I develop this analysis by way of an examination of their formal network properties (most of whose definitions were introduced in earlier chapters, especially Chapters 1 and 5). The analysis is motivated by a number of key concerns. First, I want to see how well my earlier arguments regarding the

in Networks of sound, style and subversion
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something which became known as post-punk. 4 The intercity ties which linked the various local post-punk worlds, constituting a national post-punk world. Addressing these issues has raised further issues which I have had to bracket or gloss over in order to make my project manageable. I want to end this book by briefly identifying some of these, and mapping out topics for further research. Before I do, however, I will briefly recap the central arguments of the book. Many accounts of the birth of punk focus upon social strains and frustrations which its pioneers are said

in Networks of sound, style and subversion
A tale of three cities

Echo and the Bunnymen, for example, notes that: ‘After six months of punk, everybody got bored with it and started getting into weirder things’ (in Cooper 1982: 14). Julian Cope, whose band, the Teardrop Explodes, were the Bunnymen’s main competitors in Liverpool’s post-punk world, concurs: the punk thing had this kind of built-in obsolescence. When I first got into the idea, in November 1976, I thought I was way too late. But new people were finding the scene all the time. Now we figured punk would be over in a couple of months. We wanted something new. (Cope 1994

in Networks of sound, style and subversion
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’ whose decisions in some ways still betray their punk origins. Even if punk and post-punk were not significant topics in their own right, however, the dynamics of their emergence and diffusion would be. If we abstract from their concrete content, the punk and post-punk worlds and their emergence manifest processes and mechanisms of collective action and mobilisation which are common across a range of social worlds and movements, from political insurgencies and social movements through criminal underworlds to the conspiratorial circles 4 Networks of sound, style and

in Networks of sound, style and subversion
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Nodes, ties and worlds

mindful of this in SNA and techniques do exist which facilitate attention to dynamics and change (Butts 2008; Doreian and Snijders 2010, 2012; Snijders 2011). Structure can be relatively stable, however, and where we believe this to be so, snapshots afford useful access to them. 86   Connecting sounds 5.1  Liverpool’s punk/post-punk world, 1975–80. Musicking networks   87 Network graphs are not scatterplots and the location of nodes along their vertical and horizontal planes has no direct analytic significance in SNA; neither does the length of the edges. ‘Space’ in

in Connecting sounds
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involved. Worlds form when and because actors are brought together by a shared interest or circumstance. Or, rather, when they are repeatedly brought together in interaction situations such that shared meanings, habits and conventions begin to take shape. Furthermore, in the course of their interaction they may generate ‘internal goods’; that is, objects or ends which have value within their world but not outside of it (Crossley and Bottero 2014). In the case of the punk and post-punk worlds interaction was centred upon music. It involved: live performance and its

in Networks of sound, style and subversion
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Broadcast networks, media and moral panics

contention and confusion, a state of affairs not helped by the fact that the Pistols played Manchester four times in relatively close succession during 1976: twice at the Lesser Free Trade Hall (4 June and 20 July), at the instigation of Devoto, Shelley and Boon, and then twice in December, at the Electric Circus, as part of the ill-fated Anarchy Tour (see below). It is widely agreed, however, that many of those in attendance went on to become central players in Manchester’s punk and post-punk worlds, from the formative members of the Fall and Joy Division, through

in Networks of sound, style and subversion
Debates over cultural conventions in French punk

Velvets to the Voidoids: A Pre-Punk History for a Post-Punk World (New York: Penguin Books, 1993); P. Lentini, ‘Punk’s Origins: Anglo-American Syncretism’, Journal of Intercultural Studies, 24:2 (2003), 153–74; L. McNeil and G. McCain, Please Kill Me: An Oral History of Punk (New York: Penguin Books, 1997); J. Miller, Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock and Roll, 1947–77 (New York: Fireside Books, 1999); M. Spitz and B. Mullen, We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001).   13 T. Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe

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