"It's not a fashion statement, it's a death wish" : subcultural power dynamics, niche-media knowledge construction, and the 'emo kid' folk-devil
This thesis examines the genesis of the derogative ‘emo kid’ representation and considers the latent functions it initially served in being applied to visible categories of adolescent subculturalists on the behalf of participants within the wider punk subculture. Pulling from the work of Stanley Cohen in arguing that the ‘emo kid’ representation be conceptualized as a subcultural ‘folk-devil’, this thesis argues for the applicability of a Bourdieuian theoretical framework in understanding the means in which subcultural ‘authenticity’ is not only distributed throughout ‘fields’ of subcultural participation, but within those spheres of communicative entertainment media in which subcultural knowledge is created, legitimized and disseminated. In offering a Foucaultian genealogy of the niche-mediated ‘emo’ pseudo-genre, and highlighting its correlation with concurrent movements perceived as facilitating the mainstream colonization of the punk subculture, this thesis argues that the ‘emo kid’ folk-devil was constructed and reified by virtue of an array of discursive measures – based largely in online, ‘micro-mediated’ forums - through which punk subculturalists vied to marginalize those ‘emo kids’ so perceived as threatening the exclusivity of the punk subculture and the long-established ‘symbolic economies’ contained therein. Finally, this thesis demonstrates the process through which this subcultural folk-devil was annexed into a wider socio-discourse concerning dangerous youth populations and, thus, came to be utilized in collusion with mass-mediated campaigns meant to perpetuate the political disempowerment of adolescent populations through the endorsement of ‘representational politics’.
Emo, Power, Subculture, Resistance, Popular Culture, Social Construction, Knowledge Construction, Representational Politics, Folk Devil
Master of Arts (M.A.)