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We bang our heads, therefore I am: Subculture as laboratory of identity - the case of heavy metal
Örebro universitet, Institutionen för humaniora, utbildnings- och samhällsvetenskap.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Subculture is a structure against which identities are both created and guarded. These identities are often socially and practically negotiated against an idea of individual authenticity. The thought of nurturing ones uniqueness while striving to fit in is a common duality and a clear cause of friction within subcultures. The fourty year old heavy metal subculture is no exception. It has proven an arena for boundary drawing, exclusivity and alienation, but also for fierce loyalty and a sense of self-fulfilment.

This thesis studies how young adults construct their identities in relation to subcultures in general and in relation to the heavy metal subculture in particular. This is brought to the for in four articles concerned with the construction and reproduction of subjective and intersubjective authenticity, the stigma and self-determination surrounding alienation, the practices of different levels of rituals and the construction of female gender identity in a male-dominated subculture.

The thesis finds that heavy metal fans construct their identity in relation to the subculture through a life story. This life story is spun around a number of arguments on self and identity, which all aim to position the individual as a long-term, authentic, knowledgeable, self-determined and practically involved heavy metal fan. Furthermore, identity is constructed through a number of practices of which the narration of the subculture and the use of instruments exemplify both abstract and concrete rituals. Alienation is an important aspect of identity creation, especially where heavy metal fans, following an initial feeling of alienation, position themselves and their culture in what is considered a self-chosen manner against an outside society. Alienation can especially accompany the experiences of the female heavy metal fan, both within and outside the subculture. However, endurance and knowledge helps sustain a sense of a self-made identity, which can earn her respect from other heavy metal fans.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitet , 2012. , p. 87
Series
Örebro studies in sociology, ISSN 1650-2531 ; 14
Keywords [en]
subculture, heavy metal, identity, authenticity, ritual, alienation, gender
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-14675Libris ID: 13522424ISBN: 978-91-7668-896-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-14675DiVA, id: diva2:1176636
Public defence
2012-11-16, Hörsal F, Forumhuset, Örebro universitet, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Delarbeten: 1. I bang my head, therefore I am: constructing individual and social authenticity in the heavy metal subculture 2. Like a trojan horse among the average joes: acknowledging, upholding and reproducing alienation and rebelliousness within the heavy metal subculture 3. Never alone in the dark, always alone in the dark: rituals and social adhesives in the heavy metal subculture 4. It’s a matter of eating or being eaten: gender positioning and difference making in the heavy metal subculture

Available from: 2018-01-23 Created: 2018-01-23 Last updated: 2018-01-23
List of papers
1. 'I Bang my Head, Therefore I Am': Constructing Individual and Social Authenticity in the Heavy Metal Subculture
Open this publication in new window or tab >>'I Bang my Head, Therefore I Am': Constructing Individual and Social Authenticity in the Heavy Metal Subculture
2013 (English)In: Young - Nordic Journal of Youth Research, ISSN 1103-3088, E-ISSN 1741-3222, Vol. 21, no 1, p. 95-110Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article investigates the ways in which heavy metal fans construct their selves and collectives in relation to the music and the culture, by concentrating on subjective and intersubjective arguments on what it means to be an authentic heavy metal fan. The empirical material consists of focus-group interviews and single interviews with Swedish heavy metal fans of ages 18–27. By way of conclusion, I find that individual construction of an authentic heavy metal identity is the result of (a) arguments of long-term dedication, (b) being able to highlight symbolic events and attributes that are associated with the heavy metal culture and (c) arguments of making the right choices based on an authentic inner voice. Thus, social construction of a common authentic identity is the result of negotiations around an abstract moral. The study on which this article is based finds that the construction of authentic selves and collectives takes place partly in a close social in-group context, where individual and collective dedication is known and need not be argued for, as well as in a thematic in-group, where symbols and attributes are known but where dedication must be argued for.

National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:his:diva-14676 (URN)10.1177/1103308812467673 (DOI)000314240800005 ()2-s2.0-84873274065 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2018-01-23 Created: 2018-01-23 Last updated: 2018-01-23Bibliographically approved
2. "It's a matter of eating or being eaten." Gender positioning and difference making in the heavy metal subculture
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"It's a matter of eating or being eaten." Gender positioning and difference making in the heavy metal subculture
2013 (English)In: European Journal of Cultural Studies, ISSN 1367-5494, E-ISSN 1460-3551, Vol. 16, no 4, p. 453-467Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this article is to study how gender difference and ultimately female gender positioning are created and manifested in the heavy metal culture. The empirical material consists of single interviews and focus group interviews with heavy metal fans between the ages of 18 and 26. The overall finding is that while gender is a moveable position in general, women move their gender position to a greater extent than men, as they are forced constantly to adhere to the male values of the heavy metal culture. Three dualities in the positioning of heavy metal women illustrate this phenomenon: a whore/goddess' paradigm based on the knowledge of the female heavy metal fan; the balancing act of acting male' and looking female'; and the gender twilight zone' of being insufficiently male for heavy metal culture while being insufficiently female for the mainstream world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2013
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Humanities and Social sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:his:diva-8810 (URN)10.1177/1367549413484305 (DOI)000322320000005 ()2-s2.0-84880824208 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2014-02-14 Created: 2014-02-14 Last updated: 2018-01-23Bibliographically approved

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