Popular culture and aestheticization: comparison and the discursive construction of "scenes"
Paper short abstract:
Based on fieldwork at three Goth festivals, this paper seeks to demonstrate that comparison is a powerful communicative form that serves to reproduce the unwritten rules of the "scene". It conceptualizes comparison as a strategy that establishes specific cultural and social order.
Paper long abstract:
Scenes are complex forms of social networks. In the context of scene-specific events like festivals, members of scenes constantly negotiate aesthetic, social and cultural norms. Based on ongoing fieldwork during three festivals of the Goth scene such as the most important international festival in Leipzig (Germany), the paper seeks to demonstrate to what extent comparison is a powerful communicative form that serves to stabilize, reproduce and even to transform the unwritten rules of the scene. Focusing on the negotiation of aesthetics, this paper discusses comparison as a cultural practice that is embedded in specific performative and discursive context. The paper seeks to shed light onto the omnipresent practice of "bitching about others" - e.g. ways of dancing, looks and styles etc. - has relevant social functions. "Bitching about others", here, is an important culturally codified form of comparison. Through this comparison, members of the scene create common understandings about what the scene is or what the scene should be. As the paper will show, comparison is always linked to bodily and emotional experiences as well as to a specific set of material culture. Finally, on a more theoretical level, the paper conceptualizes comparison as a cultural technique or a strategy that establishes specific cultural and social order.
Comparison as social and cultural practice