The Great Punk Swindle

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Bruce Sachs

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Aug 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/9/98
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Was the 1977 Punk Movement a typical youth subculture?

To what degree did the press play in creating a moral panic?


The Punk Movement. Where did it start? There are many differing opinions
on this, but I believe the most accepted answer is that it developed in
London in 1976 from the American Rock`N`Roll Scene and developed into the
New Wave music of the 1980`s. The businessman, Malcolm McLaren, is widely
credited with creating the movement. He used his business sense to promote
a band he had put together; a band of four working-class youths he called
“The Sex Pistols”. The Sex Pistols started by playing in London clubs where
only “kids” were allowed in. McLaren owned the shop “SEX” on King`s Road in
Chelsea, which sold bondage gear amongst other things. The frontman of the
Sex Pistols, John Lydon, often wore these bondage clothes on stage which the
fans inevitably copied. McLaren used to invite members of the press to
these gigs, and they were shocked at what went on. The band could not keep
in time with each other and the fans were beating each other up. Obviously,
the press printed this, exactly what McLaren wanted. The Punk scene went
nationwide, and then worldwide. McLaren claimed he had found “the politics
of working-class boredom”.

“I didn`t want fans of music, just kids who liked to dress up” McLaren

In this study, I want to try and establish two things: firstly, why the Punk
scene become so popular and was it ever a “subculture” in sociologocial
terms?; secondly, whether the punk scene was ever as bad as the mass media
claimed and if there was a moral panic.
My expected results are that the punk movement fits the typical model of a
youth subculture; and that the mass media did, in fact, create a moral
panic.

To aid me in my research, I have used many musical reference books and
interviewed 12 people who claim they were involved in the punk movement of
1977.


Methodology

For this particular study, I think it is important that I keep open-minded.
I will use a interpretative methodology as I believe this best suits my
study. Interpretative methodology uses qualitative data and rejects the
scientific approach. Interactionalist theory relies on the belief that
people are social actors and have consciousness which allows them to
experience the world in terms of meanings. Interactionalists believe that
people do not react passively to external stimuli. Using Symbolic
Interactionalist theory involves observation, not rejecting causal
relationships and not using statistical data. I have chosen this
perspective beacuse is allows me to question the punks and get their
opinions which I think are very important. I don`t believe this study
could be done sufficiently using a positivist approach. The methodology I
have chosen to use is widely accepted in the study of sociology although
positivists may question how reliable the data is with no statistics.

This study will involve a lot of objective and subjective (both are
important to an Interactionalist) observation. It is not only important to
study from a sociological point of view, but from the position of the punks
themselves. This can be related to the Weberian concept of “Verstehen”
which means to understand and put yourself in the social actors shoes.

I will have to collect a lot of data for this study which will come from two
sources; firstly from musical reference books and secondly from my
interviews with the 1977 punks. 10 out of the 12 interviews were conducted
over the Internet.
I posted a message onto the “Punk” newsgroup asking for help with my study.
18 people responded of which 10 actually answered the questions. As more
people in America have the Internet, it was only inevitable that most of the
respondents would be from the USA This gave me an international view for my
study.
The sociologist Herbert said in 1990 that respondents may not be honest when
answering questionnaires. I found this criticism of questionnaires applied
directly to my study. The answers from some respondents were just “too
good”. Some respondents gave me text books answers which I couldn`t help
feel that this wasn`t their opinion so much as something they had read.
Herbert also said that the data could be subject to researcher bias. As
this is almost inevitable, I have tried my best not to interpret the data
whilst collecting it.

The musical reference books are often written by people who have very strong
opinions on certain musical styles. I have used this information but
realise that it may not be 100% accurate.
I also watched “The Great Rock`N`Roll Swindle” which is a film McLaren made
to show the world how much money he made from the Punk movement. The film
is largely a historical film about the birth and the death of The Sex
Pistols which seems to be mostly accurate and ties in well with other
references I have used.

Background to the study

I am basing my study on Albert K. Cohen`s definition of a subculture, and
Stan Cohen`s “Folk Devils and Moral Panics”. I did not find a study that
directly concentrated on the punk movement of the 1970`s. However, I
believe the two studies above can be directly linked to the movement.

There are many different stories about how the punk movement started. This
is what I believe to be the most accepted.
It started in 1976, when the British economy was struggling and unemployment
was high. There was a sense of boredom with 70`s supergroups such as The
Who and Led Zeppelin as they only played in stadiums which were expensive to
attend. McLaren declared it “a generation of boredom”. McLaren described
the punk movement as “controlled chaos against capitalism; the godfather of
fascism”. McLaren was a brilliant businessman. Along with Vivenne
Westwood, he created the whole punk image; a demand for attention. However,
after The Sex Pistols disbanded, Lydon claimed he had always had the “Do It
Yourself” attitude and that he had created the punk movement. When the
original bassist, Glenn Matlock, was thrown out of the group for “being
middle-class and liking The Beatles”, he was replaced with Sid Vicious, the
ultimate icon of the punk movement. He couldn`t even play bass when he
joined. I believe, as many others do, that McLaren created Sid Vicious.
McLaren encouraged Vicious to wear the swastika because he knew it got
attention and offended people. The use of the swastika was a mixture of
innocence and shock value provocation. McLaren also gave Sid money to
supply his heroin addiction, and encouraged him to cut himself on stage.
“That`s right Sidney, that`s how to be a Sex Pistol, that`s how to be
famous”. Lydon described Vicious in 1996 as a puppet. Sid, real name John
Beverly, played most gigs whilst high on heroin. He murdered his
girlfriend, Nancy, in a semiconscious state induced by a mixture of heroin
and speed. Lydon, in his book ROTTEN says he renamed John Beverly because
Sid was the most annoying name he could think of (also the name of a pet
rat) and Vicious because that is exactly what Beverly wasn`t. “He couldn`t
fight his way out of a paper bag” said Lydon. However, Beverly became very
vicious indeed. In separate incidents, he smashed beer glasses on people
and beat people up with a bike chain, and he often hit people with his bass
guitar whilst on stage. Sid was a gimmick, and was nicknamed “Fucking
Useless” by the rest of the band.
Drummer Paul Cook and guitarist Steve Jones claimed that they had stolen
some equipment from Rolling Stone Keith Richards house in order to play
their first gig.
McLaren created The Sex Pistols to destroy mainstream music and large record
companies and to create a little bit of anarchy. Ironic that so many
mainstream record labels signed them up. Within 18 months, McLaren claims
The Sex Pistols received £695,000 from EMI, A&M, Virgin and Warners.
One of the major events which occurred involving The Sex Pistols was the
infamous Bill Grundy TODAY show. Many people think this was just one of the
many doings of McLaren. The Sex Pistols came out with a string of f-words
on daytime TV. The story was on the front of every national newspaper the
next day. The Sex Pistols sold more papers on Fleet Street than the
armistice. They were decidedly a media hit. The Education Minister of the
time said “The Sex Pistols are a symptom of the way society is declining.
There was always idiots, but now there`s idiots with ideology”. For some
people it was all too much, Lydon and Cook were attacked in separate
incidents on the street, WHSmiths and Woolworths
banned all Sex Pistols merchandise and Sir Cliff Richard held a meeting of
Christians in London to get rid of this “glorification of evil”.
Two quite obvious publicity stunts on McLaren`s part are: the spoof signing
of the A&M contract outside Buckingham Palace and the infamous boat trip on
the River Thames past the Houses of Parliament where the Sex Pistols played
“God Save the Queen” and “Anarchy in the UK”. The press were invited to
both, and arrests were made at the latter including McLaren himself.
The Sex Pistols imploded. Their last gig at Winterland in America was
terrible. Sid`s girlfriend, Nancy who introduced Sid to heroin, kept Sid on
drugs just to feed her own habbit. Sid became a skeleton; at over 6ft, he
weighed only 8 stones. Lydon now hated McLaren intensely for a great many
reasons, but mainly because he could see what McLaren was doing to Sid. He
called him “the most evil man alive”. McLaren fired Lydon who returned to
London. Cook and Jones went to Brazil to meet Ronnie Biggs, the train
robber in another obvious publicity stunt.
McLaren started on his next project “The Great Rock`N`Roll Swindle”. This
was be a film which told the story of the legend that was The Sex Pistols.
He began by shooting scenes with Cook and Jones in Brazil with Biggs. He
then filmed Sid singing the classic Rock`N`Roll song “Something Else” on the
back of a motorcycle and him signing My Way in front of a bourgeois crowd
which he shoots at the end; Sid`s idea. Lydon appears in only two scenes
which were filmed prior to his departure.
Sid spoke to a jouralist whilst filming “My Way” and told her that his basic
nature of lifestyle would kill him in six months. On 2 February 1979 he
died from fluid on the lungs following a heavy amount of heroin.

Lydon emerged with a new band, Public Image Limited, and said in 1986
“Today the punk scene is just made up of uniform-grabbing, watered-down kids
who completely copy each other and lust over legends who had a fuck-off
attitude”.

Context

For this study, I will be focusing mostly on two sociological studies.
These are:

1. Albert K. Cohen - the delinquent subculture {1955} (Functionalist)

2. Stan Cohen - Folk Devil`s and Moral Panics {1972} (Interactionalist)


A brief outline to work on delinquent and youth subcultures

Albert K. Cohen stated that delinquency is a collective rather than
individual response and this is why subcultures are formed. Cohen suggested
that lower-working-class boys often create these subcultures because “they
hold the success goals of mainstream culture, but due largely to educational
failure and dead-end jobs, they have little opportunity to achieve this”.
Simon Frith said a youth subculture has a set of shared norms and values and
agreed with Cohen that these subcultures consisted of mostly
lower-working-class boys. He suggested that middle-class youth culture was
more “self-consciously rebellious”.
In Resistance Through Rituals (1975), it was said that youth culture was
“adolescent rebellion against middle-class authorities”.
The Marxists have never offered an acceptable explanation for these
subcultures. They believe that the underlying cause for these subcultures
is class position, but then this has been questioned. Frith asked if this
is so, then what is the significance of having green hair? Roland Barthes
recognised the importance of the need to identify with one`s peers. He said
the use of bondage clothes and the swastika in the punk movement was very
important. The Marxist, Mike Brake, said “subcultures arise as attempts to
resolve collectively experienced problems arising from contradictions in the
social structure”.
It has been written that the sub-cultural theory rests on limited empirical
research and there are many flaws in the theory. The Functionalist Walter
B. Miller believes that there is no lower-class subculture. He believes
that the way these individuals act is a way of life which is passed down
through generations. An image of toughness, smartness to outsmart other
classes and the search for excitement.
There have been three major musical youth subcultures: the Teds in the 50`s,
the Mods in the 60`s and the Punks in the 70`s. Frith believes that these
subcultures started because the school replaced the home as centre of social
activity and less responsibility was placed on the teenager, ie. they no
longer were seen as breadwinners.


A brief outline to work on the mass media

The most simple and basic explanation of the media is the hypodermic model
which explains the media as an injection into the veins of the audience.
This model has been widely criticised. Katz and Lazarsfeld, who wrote
Personal Influence, said that there are active and passive recipients of the
media, we are not all affected in the same way. Eysenck concluded that
“most research is inconclusive and does not allow us to compare similar
individuals and to tease out why some people seem to be susceptible while
most are not. Nias described the area of mass media as “a sociological
minefield” and found it near impossible to control the conditions and
variables.
William Belson printed his controversial study Television violence and the
adolescent boy in 1978. He concluded that “high exposure to television
violence increases the degree to which boys engage in serious violence”.
This study came under very heavy criticism, especially from Howitt who
claimed there were serious methodological problems and the study area was
not that simple.
Durkheim said in 1952 that “essentially social life is made up of
representations” which makes the mass media a very important sociological
area.

Mass Media and the Moral Panic

“Well, it was totally media-created. They were responsible for smearing and
trashing
the scene, depicting it as violent and immoral, etc. It threatened the
status quo and the ruling elites, so the press HAD to attack it.
Unfortunately, many people thought this was what punk was about, and were
attracted to it for these (wrong) reasons. Eventually, these people, who
were fed the media image of punk, became the majority of the scene, or at
least the vocal minority. Thats why violence and drug abuse ruined it so
much. Its the media's fault, in many ways!” Scott Beadle

This is one of the comments made by a respondent to my research.
I believe the mass media have an important role in developing the labels by
which social problems are publicly recognised. They define for us, who are
the “good” guys and who are the “bad” guys. Stan Cohen argues that the
vocabulary used by the media wildly exaggerates the events; especially the
tabloid press who rely heavily on shock headlines to sell newspapers.
Cohen stated that there are three types of over-reporting: exaggeration,
prediction and symbolisation.
Exaggeration means over-estimating features of the event. Emotive language
such as “riot” is used and crucial facts are misrepresented. Prediction is
when the newspaper may suggest the event may happen again leading to a
feeling that the terror will continue. Symbolisation involves using words
that immediately link the readers mind to a particular person. For example,
mentioning Safety Pin would make an average person think of a punk.
Cohen described a Moral Panic as having two parts.

“The sparks of the initial deviant act behaviour are fanned into something
far more serious by lurid reporting which in turn generates an increase in
deviance”. Cohen 1972

This is what happened with the punk movement as many of the people I
interviewed agreed. As the media reported stories of violence and lack of
respect for everything, this attracted the wrong type of people who saw the
movement as a mechanism to release their own frustration. People joined and
called themselves punks just so they could partake in the violence. I think
the media amplified the movement in a very significant way.

“The control culture (ie. police, courts) start to step up their response.
They become less tolerant of flamboyant styles of dress and behaviour
amongst young people and are sensitised to be constantly on the look-out for
hooliganism. In the atmosphere of hysteria which is created, the increased
activity of the control culture is itself taken as showing the seriousness
of the problem” Cohen 1972

A punk I interviewed, Grebo, gave an answer that fitted Cohen`s definition
perfectly

“I was involved in many riots brought on by the Los Angeles P.D. in the
early 80's.
I also went through the hell of the old Led Zeppelin fans making sport out
of hunting punks down to beat them up. I was put on file with the Huntington
Beach P.D. as a known punk, followed and harrassed by them on a regular
basis.” Grebo Foster

Cohen says that eventually, the control culture and the mass media
amplification will aid each other in creating an “amplification spiral”.
This spiral will work by the media reporting events, the control culture
responding, the media reporting on the increased number of responses, the
control culture thinking the situation is worsening, and so on.
When Cohen did a survey to find out societal reaction, he found many people
were “explicitly critical of the role of the media”. However, he did use a
very small sample of people to question and he questions the asked were
fairly limited.
From his research, Cohen concluded that a moral panic occurs “when people
fear that the major values and institutions of society are under attack.
The young people are the “Folk Devils”. They are easy to identify,
relatively powerless and it is fairly simple to exaggerate certain aspects
of their behaviour so as to make them appear as a threat to society. They
become scapegoats, an easy target for the fear and hate of many people in
the wider society. The media play an important role in whipping up moral
panics, identifying folk devils, amplifying their deviance, and providing
targets for popular anxieties”. Cohen 1972

Cohen was referring to The Mods of the 60`s in his study, but the study is
also directly applicable to the Punks of the 70`s. The Punks were the “Folk
Devils”. They were easy to identify (bondage clothes, spiky hair,
piercings, etc...), relatively powerless (lower-working class) and simple to
exaggerate aspects of their behaviour (the Pogo dance).
The control culture definitely did respond to the punk movement. Here are
some of the other responses from the people I interviewed.

“I had a job in an office and the day after the Bill Grundy interview with
the Pistols no one actually spoke to me until the afternoon as they were so
disgusted!” Dave Floyd

“People called me a Nazi because I wore boots, even though I am very
anti-racist. Just because we were viewed as trouble makers, everything we
did was 'bad' and 'anti-social', we had things pinned on us from the word
go. The ultimate form of prejudice” Nino Eaton

“We were who the cops looked to when there was a problem. It must of been
us, right?! The press, ha, what wankers they are. You can play them like a
fiddle with all there morals and ethics. They brought on just about
everything they wanted to stop. Idiots.” PJ


Punk: A deviant youth subculture?

“(Almost) every generation has their way of saying 'look at me, I am
different to spite what my parents want me to be'. But punks were different
from the kids that were rebelling. Other kinds of kids HAD to have some
acceptance from thier peers. Punks didn't. Punks were unacceptable, even to
thier peers.” Shira Wild
Did punks have shared norms and values? If they did, then this would make
them part of a subculture. John Lydon, or Johnny Rotten as he was known to
punks, said punk was all about being oneself, being an individual and doing
what you wanted. That is how he defined punk. Perhaps inevitably, there
soon became punk norms which was totally what punk was supposed to be
against. I found quite varying opinions on this from my interviews. Some
argued that the norms helped the movement grow and become “a collective
fuck-you statement”. Others said that is what ruined the scene; it all
became about looking cool.
“Tourist punks spending £50 on bondage gear and styling mohican hair-do`s
totally got the wrong idea and ended up being tourist attractions on King`s
Road. Very Sad.” C. Longmuir

“Their clothes were elaborately contrived to make the wearer appear as
terrifyingly repugnant as possible, alluding to anything that would induce
immediate outrage in the eye of the beholder . . . Hair shorn close to the
skull and dyed any colour so long as it didn’t look natural, spiked up with
Vaseline; nose, ears, cheeks, lips, and other extremities pierced with a
plethora of safety pins, chains and dangling insignia; ripped and torn
jumble sale shirts, strangled with a thin tie and mangled with predicable
graffiti of song titles, perversions or Social Observations; black leather
wrist bands and dog collars studded with silver spikes sometimes with
leashes attached.” A description of punks at a punk venue in 1977 by Julie
Burchill and Tony Parsons in The Boy Looked at Johnny
Some described the move towards a punk norm as inevitable; as a way of
identifying. One of the most memorable events on television was when punks
marched into London in 1980 to mark the anniversary of the death of Sid
Vicious. A punk told the reporter that being a punk was all about being an
individual with thousands of punks in the background that looked exactly
like him!
Albert K. Cohen suggested that subcultures were formed mainly by
lower-working-class boys. This seems true for the “first” punks (the ones
that hung around “SEX” in 1976 with nothing better to do), but as the
movement grew, people from all levels of the social strata joined. Simon
Frith (1985) said that middle-class youth culture was more “self-consciously
rebellious”. When middle-class kids became punks, they tended to lie
desperately about their backgrounds, almost as if they were embarrassed by
it.
The Chicago School in the 1930`s concluded that “subcultures are a result of
blocked access to social rewards” and because of this, are labelled deviant
by the control culture. It did appear to many working-class boys across the
country that there were not many jobs around and unemployment was rising due
to the rapid decline of heavy industries. This led to a situation called
“fatalism” which is the acceptance of a situation instead of trying to
improve it. The Sex Pistols song “God Save the Queen” included the line
“There`s no Future”.
“Forget music, and concentrate on creating generation gaps” McLaren
McLaren allowed only “kids” into the early Sex Pistols gigs. He claimed the
kids didn`t buy the record for the music, but for what it stood for. In
accordance with my interviews, most people think that punk was more about
attitude than music. I too think that the advent of punk required not
virtuosity of music but of attitude. Punk bands claimed that anyone could
be in a band, all that was needed was three chords and the truth.
“You just pick a chord, go twang, and you`ve got music” Sid Vicious
The music was just a way of getting a message across. People became punks
for a number of reasons. The music was one of the reasons, but dressing up
was another; being the centre of attention and having the same attitudes and
opinions of the punks was another still.


Questionnaire/Interview Results

AGE IN 1977: Youngest 8, oldest 17, most 12 or 13
FATHER`S OCCUPATION IN 1977: Teacher, builder, postal worker, lawyer,
etc...
ETHNICITY: All white
Qualifications (or at what age did you leave school): About half left at 16,
others to uni
Have you ever attended an art school? A third of the respondents had
Do you have a criminal record (if so, for what)? A third of the respondents
had for: football hooliganism, violent behaviour, Breaking & Entering,
theft, driving offences
1. Describe the term "PUNK". A music-based form of social protest; escape
from boredom; a youth movement linked by music and fashion; a lifestyle in
response to society
2. In your opinion, did punk focus more on attitude than music? The music
created the attitude; about half of the responses said both, and a third
said attitude.
3. In what year and why did you become a punk & why do you think the whole
culture grew up? 1977 mostly. Young people all over the country felt the
same alienation; boredom; threat of violence seen as attractive; release
from gloom & doom
4. How far did you go to achieve the "punk" image? 8 out of the 12 punks I
interviewed claimed they went all the way to achieve the image - hair,
clothes, etc. The other 4 said that that wasn`t what punk was about and
never changed their appearance, the others were poseur
5. Describe any effects of anti-social feelings towards the punk movement,
which you personally experienced? No trouble that wasn`t expected; beaten
up; banned from public places; general insults on the street; followed by
police
6. Do you believe that punk music started in America but the punk attitude
started in England? 10 of the punks agreed with this statement, other 2 said
it all started in US
7. To what extent do you believe Malcom McLaren to have had an effect on
punk and do you believe his business way of manipulating the media forced
punk into the mainstream? Malcolm`s vision of punk became the universal,
popular, media vision; he sold punk; he killed the scene; punk would have
happened without him; he was just a catalyst
8. Some say that punk died in 1977, along with the icons. Why did this
happen? Press lost interest; the attitude lives on; punk was destined to
implode; didn`t die, media hype died
9. Do you think 90`s bands such as Green Day, The Offspring and 3 Colours
Red can be defined as punk bands? Half said no, half said yes or called them
punk-influenced bands
10. Please name your favourite three bands in 1977. Sex Pistols; Clash;
Damned

11. What do you think about the fact that punk was supposed to be about
individuality, but there was soon a "punk" norm - ie. dress, attitude,
background, etc... Totally what punk wasn`t about; disappointing; happened
after punk became mainstream; all about looking cool; became a collective
fuck-you statement
12. Do you see punk as being a youth movement; a part of youth culture?
Everyone agreed with this but some argued that they were still punks but by
no means still youthful; one said yes but only because young people are free
and don`t have the responsibilities that the system forces upon us
13. Do you see yourself as being a punk today? (dress, attitude) 2 people
described themselves as products of the punk movement; 3 said yes in both
dress and attitude; 5 said yes but attitude only; and the other 2 said “in a
way”
14. What is your occupation now? artist; teacher; record label owner;
computer engineer
15. To what degree did the press play in the creating the moral panic from
the shock of the punk culture ? The press totally misunderstood; the media
destroyed the scene by introducing drugs and violence
16. Was drug use central to the punk culture, and which drugs? 5 said drugs
had nothing to do with the scene; 4 said beer, dope and glue; 3 said speed;
narcotics ruined the scene
17. If punk was a rebellion, what were the punks rebelling against? Boredom;
class system; mass produced culture; parents; government; capitalism;
middle-age values

In summarising these results, I have used the most popular answers and tried
to include all answers which went against the grain of all the other
answers. I feel this will give an overall impression of the kind of feeling
towards the subjects discussed.

Evaluation

1977 was an incredible year.
I think how I interpret the results from the interviews is very important
indeed. As I have already established, the media publicised punk very early
on. It will be difficult to filter out what is belief and what is
knowledge. Many of the respondents gave me very similar answers which leads
me to believe that this is what they have “learnt” punk is supposed to be
about. However, if they agree with what they have learnt punk to be about,
then they can also believe it. It appears from the answers I received that
there are some very interesting contradictions within the punk movement such
as punk standing for individuality but then having a “uniform”. There is
also a clear dividing line between the original punks and the
“media-created” punks. John Clarke, who said he used to hang around “SEX”
in 1976, could be seen as one of these original punks. I believe to have
interviewed three of these original punks and they were 2 out of 3 were
against the violent side. The other 9 I interviewed were media-created.
They joined the movement because they were attracted to the violence and the
excitement.

At the beginning of 1977, Punk could be called a “subculture” because all
the members had the same interests and background, but by the end of the
year, with the help of the media, everyone and anyone was becoming a punk.
Punk was forced into the mainstream by the media. Middle-class kids were
becoming punks, Soul and Rude Boys got in on the scene - it became a totally
diversified movement. Without the common links that Cohen defined, the
movement cannot be called a “subculture” in sociological terms although many
would definitely see it as a subculture. As with the Britpop scene in the
1990`s, the “Oasis” haircut would not have been as popular if the press
hadn`t made such a fuss about it. However, the Britpop scene was never a
subculture, it has always been mainstream.

From my research, I believe the mass media did create a Moral Panic in 1977.
Stan Cohen`s definition of how a Moral Panic starts agreed with my responses
from the punks. I am confident that the movement did create an
amplification spiral and this would explain the police files on punks and
the lack of tolerance. The secondary research I did with Cohen`s book,
“Folk Devils & Moral Panics” (1972), helped me to define how a Moral Panic
was started - the primary research, my interviews, helped me to discover if
a Moral Panic did, in fact, occur.

I believe the methodology I used was appropriate. The data I collected was
qualitative and I didn`t use any quantitative data. I didn`t set out to
look for causal relationships, but I may have made a few judgements along
the way. As I processed the data, I did my best not to prejudice any of the
statements. When I summarised the data from the interviews, I used the most
frequent answers plus any “unusual” answers which didn`t seem to agree with
anyone else. Even though I tried to illiminate any prejudices, I am sure
there will be some subconscious errors.

I feel the way the interviews were conducted over the Internet to have both
good and bad points. The good points about it are how easy it is to use and
not at all time-consuming and the speed at which people were able to answer.
Without the use of the Internet, I would have only been able to question two
people which would have made my data very unreliable. The down side of the
use of the Internet, is that not very many people in Britain have it yet.
The Americans have been On-line longer than us in Europe and many more of
them have the Internet. From the three people I questioned in Britain over
the Internet, two of them were computer engineers. This method of
collecting data only gives me access to those punks who have rejoined
mainstream culture. For a more board-based study, I would wish to conduct
studies with punks that hang around King`s Road and Leicester Square in
London. This would give me opportunity to question those punks who never
went mainstream and ask them why they continue to be punks. I think this
would be a very interesting follow-up study. Another criticism of this
methodology, is that I never actually met the people I interviewed over the
Internet. The Internet has been given a bad name by people lying about who
and what they are. However, I believe, as I went onto a newsgroup for
punks, why would anyone lie about their answers.
I think in a further study of the punk movement, many different things would
have to be taken into account. Firstly, by no means is the punk movement
straightforward. People are still arguing today about from where it
originates; and secondly, what particular area should be studied. I have
not even attempted to cover the drugs side of the punk culture or even fully
covered the deviance side. With enough time, and the right methodology, a
fully comprehensive study of the 1977 punk movement could be done.

Overall, I am quite happy with the results this study shows.


“There were times
I`m sure you knew
When there was nothing
Fucking else to do
But through it all
When there was doubt
I shot it up or kicked it out
I fought just as before
And did it My Way”

Sid`s lyrics to “My Way”


Conclusion

The 1977 Punk Movement was very complex. Depending on which way you look at
it, it can appear completely different. It is difficult for me to conclude
on my hypothesis’ because do I conclude as a sociology student, or as an
objective observer, or as a punk-music fan? The answers will be completely
different depending on which I choose to use. The Punk movement meant so
many different things to so many different people.
The Punk movement according to Albert K. Cohen`s definition of a subculture
is not a subculture. He said a subculture shares norms. The original punks
were individuals and hated the media-created punks who wore the bondage
clothes because it was the thing to do. At the end of 1977, the movement
was so diversified, it could not simply be defined as a “subculture”.
However, that is a very objective approach to take. An Interactionalist may
consider using a subjective approach to find out if the individuals think
they are part of a subculture. From a social view, the punks may be seen as
a subculture but not from an academic perspective. It would be interseting
to continue this part of the study further.

The mass media did create a moral panic in 1977. Stan Cohen`s definition
fits my interview answers perfectly. The Punk movement was a text-book
example of a moral panic.

“It was never about studded leather jackets and black biker boots -
so when I see gangs of punks running around in studded leather jackets
these days, it just makes me sick. They got it wrong.” Lydon in 1996


four am friday

unread,
Aug 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM8/9/98
to
unfortunately, you forgot to mention where crass fits in. and garage.
and the velvet underground.
Matt
messt66+@I_hate_spam.pitt.edu <-- Guess what to take out of that
http://www.pitt.edu/~messt66/ <-- Visit, and please sign the gustbook

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