Embodying hardcore: rethinking 'subcultural' authenticities
Much of the debate surrounding the scholarship of music-based youth cultures has been organised around an epistemological assumption that focuses upon the discursive and representational value of cultural practices and artefacts. As such, contemporary writers are widely polarised on the issue of the degree to which young people commit to the cultural meanings that are attached to such performance, and divided on questions about how such meaning is manufactured in the first place. But understanding cultural performance as a solely symbolic undertaking is not only methodologically problematic; it marginalises the felt and affective experiences of participants and misses the significance of the shifting limitations and potentialities that define subcultural bodies. Contra all of this, and drawing on interviews with participants of the hardcore music scene on Australia's Gold Coast, this article instead seeks to position 'subcultural' attachment as an embodied process of becoming, where perceptions of 'authenticity' are grounded in the ongoing enactment of incorporated practical (rather than symbolic) competencies. For it is only in the transformative potential of embodied performances that identities are (re)produced. In considering such competence as contingent upon predispositions towards particular modes of action - that is, 'what a body can do' - I argue that Pierre Bourdieu's concept of 'habitus' offers a way of moving past the quotidian sociological emphasis on the symbolic and towards an engagement with youth cultural forms at the level of affect and emotion.
Journal of Youth Studies
Consumption and Everyday Life