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‘I Can’t Seem To Stay A Fixed Ideal’: Self-design and self-harm in subcultures

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This article investigates the personal and social impact of predominantly musical subcultures. It looks at the extent to which in particular punk and post-punk subcultures have validated ideas of self-design. ‘Self-design’ here is a term analogous to S. Greenblatt’s (1983) concept of ‘self-fashioning’, referring to the capacity some influencers have to validate the subversion of cultural norms in aspects of personal presentation. After briefly contextualizing the historical and cultural backdrops such groups and individuals have emerged from (e.g. mod, punk, post-punk, New Romantic and Riot Grrl) this article will examine the social norms such figures can subvert. It will then go on to focus upon more extreme examples of self-design using the case study of Richey Edwards. The article concludes by drawing from recent research to investigate where self-design ends and self-harm begins.
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Keywords: androgyny; bricolage; gender; performativity; self-fashioning; self-harm; subculture

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Northumbria

Publication date: February 1, 2014

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  • Punk & Post-Punk is a journal for academics, artists, journalists and the wider cultural industries. Placing punk and its progeny at the heart of inter-disciplinary investigation, it is the first forum of its kind to explore this rich and influential topic in both historical and critical theoretical terms.
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