Punk Rock and the Value of Auto-ethnographic Writing about Music

Main Article Content

Sarah Attfield


Why do many of the books on punk rock and hardcore punk come with punk attitude? Why are a good number of the books written from a personal perspective? What kind of value do the diary entries of Nils Stevenson in 'Vacant: A Diary of the Punk Years 1976-79' have compared to an article on the rhetoric of class by David Simonelli in the journal 'Contemporary British History'? In some respects scholarly writing on punk rock seems like a contradiction. How can music so rooted in anti-establishment sentiment be appropriated into an institutional setting? The auto-ethnographic approach found in many of the studies of punk might be an answer to this question. The writers have used their own experiences as musicians and fans to reflect on and analyse the music and scenes which arguably provides the reader with a more immediate insight. This paper argues for an auto-ethnographic approach to the writing of punk and hardcore punk and suggests that this style of writing about music offers the reader an ‘authentic’ insight into these particular music scenes.

Article Details

Terpsichorean Architecture: Writing about Music Special Issue January 2011 (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biography

Sarah Attfield, University of Technology, Sydney

Sarah Attfield completed her PhD (in contemporary Australian working class poetry) in 2007 at the University of Technology Sydney and has been working as a casual academic at UTS since then. She teaches on the communications core subjects, and the writing and cultural studies majors and in screen studies. Her general interests are in working class culture, particularly music and film.