Conceptual Interests and Analytical Shifts in Research on Rave Culture

9758 Words Oct 1st, 2014 40 Pages
Abstract

Raves have historically referred to grass-roots organized, anti-establishment and unlicensed all night dance parties, featuring electronically-produced dance music (EDM), such as techno, house, trance and drum and bass. Since their late 1980s origins in the U.K., raves have gained widespread popularity and transformed dramatically. Consequently, their many cultural traits and behaviors have garnered much sociological interest, which mostly falls into two competing perspectives: cultural studies and public health. In this paper, we review what raves look like today compared to their high point in the 1990s. We then discuss how the cultural studies and public health perspectives define raves and have studied them over time,
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Much of the sociological interest in raves follows this tradition. In fewer than 20 years since raves’ emergence in the U.K., many studies have appeared covering issues such as youth identity and counter-cultural resistance (Hill 2002), hedonism (Reynolds 1999), and drug-related risk and consequence (Yacoubian et al 2003; Sanders 2005). The purposes of this paper are to review what raves are, how they have changed over time and how scholars have attempted to understand them. Through such a review, we hope to show how research on rave culture has contributed to fundamental sociological ideas and concepts germane to the study of youth culture, deviance, and identity. Our review of the connection between rave definitions and the approaches scholars have used to study raves reveals important insights for sociological concepts and how political interests shape fields of inquiry. We contend that one’s definition of raves plays an important, but not singular, role in what issues are investigated, how raves are studied, and what concepts and ideas are advanced.
Historical Background. Raves have historically referred to grass-roots organized, anti-establishment and unlicensed all night dance parties, featuring electronically-produced dance music (EDM), such as techno, house, trance and drum and bass. Members of Generation X (the birth cohort born between 1965 and 1980- see Ulrich and Harris 2003) originated raves during the

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