[csaa-forum] Andy Bennett in Sydney 21/3

Tony Mitchell Tony.Mitchell at uts.edu.au
Tue Mar 15 12:28:06 CST 2005

Punks not dead: The continuing significance of punk rock for an older 
generation of fans

Andy Bennett (University of Surrey, UK).

UTS Bon Marche 3/210
Monday 21st March, 6pm

In June 1996 when veteran UK punk rockers the Sex Pistols performed 
their twentieth anniversary reunion concert at London’s Finsbury Park, 
early into the set the band’s lead singer John Lydon (alias Johnny 
Rotten) is reputed to have retorted: ‘Forty, fat and back!’ Offered as 
a self-mocking remark by Lydon on the ageing profile of the Sex 
Pistols, this comment also reflects on the longevity of punk music and 
its fan base. Over twenty five years after the original punk summer of 
1977, punk continues to attract a considerable following. Many of those 
who follow punk today were first attracted to punk music during the 
late 1970s and have remained fans ever since. As with research on other 
genres of popular music, studies of punk have focused primarily on its 
significance as a youth cultural movement, ‘youth’ in this sense being 
demarcated by age. However, this approach excludes older generations of 
fans for whom punk music and punk gatherings continue to have a great 
deal of significance in their lives. Based on interviews and 
conversations with punk fans between the ages of 35 and 50 in the East 
Kent region of England, this paper examines how older followers of punk 
articulate their continuing attachment to the genre. The paper also 
considers how such older punks respond to more recent developments in 
punk music, for example the growing popularity of ska-punk in the UK, 
and how they manage their relations with younger generations of punk 

Andy Bennett is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of 
Surrey. Prior to studying for his Ph.D at Durham University he spent 
two years in Germany working as a music teacher with the Frankfurt 
Rockmobil project. He has published articles on aspects of youth 
culture, popular music and local identity in a number of journals 
including British Journal of Sociology, Sociology, Sociological Review, 
Media Culture and Society and Popular Music. He is author of Popular 
Music and Youth Culture: Music, Identity and Place (2000, Macmillan) 
and Cultures of Popular Music (2001, Open University Press), editor of 
Remembering Woodstock (2004, Ashgate) and co-editor of Guitar Cultures 
(2001, Berg), After Subculture (Palgrave, 2004) and Music Scenes 
(Vanderbilt University Press, 2004). Andy is a former Chair of the UK 
and Ireland branch of the International Association for the Study of 
Popular Music (IASPM) and co-founder of the British Sociological 
Association Youth Study Group. He is a Faculty Associate of the Center 
for Cultural Sociology at Yale University, an Associate of PopuLUs, the 
Centre for the Study of the World’s Popular Musics, at Leeds University 
and a member of the Editorial Boards for the journals Sociology and 
Leisure Studies.

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