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I bang my head, therefore I am: constructing individual and social authenticity in the heavy metal subculture
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.
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 paper investigates the ways by which heavy metal fans construct their self and collective in relation to the music and the culture, by concentrating on subjective and inter-subjective 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, individual construction of an authentic heavy metal identity is the result of a) arguments on long term dedication, b) being able to highlight symbolic events and attributes which 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 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 knownbut where dedication must be argued for.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SAGE Publications India, 2013. Vol. 21, no 1, p. 95-110
Keywords [en]
Heavy metal, identity, authenticity, self, morals
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-26559DOI: 10.1177/1103308812467673ISI: 000314240800005Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84873274065OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-26559DiVA, id: diva2:573452
Available from: 2012-11-30 Created: 2012-11-30 Last updated: 2018-03-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. We bang our heads, therefore I am: subculture as laboratory of identity – the case of heavy metal
Open this publication in new window or tab >>We bang our heads, therefore I am: subculture as laboratory of identity – the case of heavy metal
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
subculture, heavy metal, identity, authenticity, ritual, alienation, gender
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-25741 (URN)978-91-7668-896-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-11-16, Hörsal F, Forumhuset, Örebro universitet, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-09-07 Created: 2012-09-07 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved

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Larsson, Susanna

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