Club Culture Analysis

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Journalist Sarah Thornton wrote the book on ‘Club Cultures’ at the end of the ‘acid house’ movement and the raves within the ‘Madchester’ scene had finished. The rave scene was starting to become more mainstream therefor losing the desirable effect it had on the individuals within it. Because of this, moral panic that had specifically centred around drugs started to lose its newsworthiness. The main theme that seems to run throughout the text is the topic of subcultures and more specifically, subcultural capital, a term coined by Bourdieu (1984), and how individual status is affected by this. Thornton explains how subcultures are a way for young individuals to express themselves and how these individuals see it as a symbolic gathering; where …show more content…
Individuals can build their knowledge and different beliefs of the norms within the crowd they are a part of. However, club cultures are fragmented and rely fully on its individuals being in the now. Because of this, ‘hipness’ plays a huge role within the lives of the individuals. Thornton draws upon Bourdieu’s work and coins the term ‘subcultural capital’, which is described as a way for members of a subculture trying to distance themselves from others by using the knowledge and commodities they have acquired. Because subcultural capital changes whenever individual’s music taste changes, the desire to be ‘hip’ or ‘cool’ becomes increasingly more important and people are trying to keep up with this rapid change. Malbon (2002) looks at how having a sense of belonging is central to the clubbing scene, and how this is achieved through ‘coolness’. Having a sense of style for example is a way for individuals to experience clubbing together, rather than alone. Hebdige (1979) would argue this point further by saying style plays a huge significance within subculture, it interrupts the process of normalisation by deviating from society; it is an expression of identity. However, Redhead (1995) argues that the way ravers dress is not a conscious choice, it is purely for practicality and …show more content…
The active role that the media plays brought the rave scene into the mainstream spotlight. The media is a crucial network for distributing knowledge of the club scene; what is and what is not considered ‘hip’ and being in the now. However, this coverage is not always positive, for example, the work of Cohen (1972) looks at how dominant groups are able to label subcultures using the media, which causes a moral panic and leads to a deviancy amplification spiral. The media create a ‘folk devil’ through stereotyping and labelling and society responds by demanding more action from the police. Within the rave scene, drugs such as ecstasy were widely used and resulted in a moral panic by the power of the media. The Daily Mail claimed in 1989 that ‘Acid house is a façade for dealing in drugs of the worst sort on a massive scale’ (Collin 1998), which caused a negative light to cast on the club scene. However, Thornton states subcultural capital used the media in order to gather underground groups and to help them expand. In the public arena, negative knowledge of the club scene was seen as important as it created a sense of mystery to it and secured the autonomy of the clubbers and ravers. Never the less, once the club scene was cast into the public eye, moral panics connected with drugs were not as ‘newsworthy’ as they once were, and started to fade into the

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