Which Side are You On? The Class Consciousness of Punk

Chicago: Open Universe. Edited by Joshua Heter & Richard Greene (2022)
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Abstract

Both the music and subculture of punk historically arose from disaffected working-class youth. This socio-economic starting point was absolutely crucial for making punk what it is. However, along with this standpoint came various levels of class consciousness that we can see evidence of in the lyrics and in various practices of people within the scene itself. I divide this consciousness into 3 specific levels of structural understanding and agency. Inspired by Georg Lukacs' analysis of class consciousness and Antonio Gramsci's theory of hegemony, I demonstrate how punk as a subculture and musical art form is a notable demonstration of "proletarian culture". But just as the revolutionary potential of the proletariat hinges on a unified ideology and consolidated and consistent praxis, so too does the revolutionary potential of punk. [This text was written for a non-academic, general audience]

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Tiffany Elise Montoya
Muhlenberg College

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