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-punkworlds (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
Joining the dots: post-punkworlds
In the previous chapter I introduced the post-punkworlds 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
First, I want to see how well my earlier arguments regarding the
something which became known as post-punk.
4 The intercity ties which linked the various local post-punkworlds,
constituting a national post-punkworld.
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
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-punkworld, 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
’ 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-punkworlds 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
Networks of sound, style and
(technically ‘ edges ’). Figure 5.1 gives an example from my earlier work (Crossley 2015a ). It visualises the network of key artists and support personnel in the Liverpool post-punk music world of the late 1970s, as derived from analysis of archives and secondary sources. Nodes are linked where I was able to identify evidence of musical collaboration between them between 1975 and 1980.
5.1 Liverpool's punk/post-punkworld, 1975–80.
Note that this is a snapshot of a dynamic relational structure which was always in-process. In most
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-punkworlds interaction was
centred upon music. It involved: live performance and its
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-punkworlds, from the formative members of the Fall and
Joy Division, through
Velvets to the Voidoids: A Pre-Punk History for a
Post-PunkWorld (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