Thank you and Project Update

Thank you to everyone who has completed the surveys, and for the great interviews, conversations, web link ups, online chats, forums etc so far – without your contributions this project would not be able to continue.

THANK YOU APR 2016


Where to from here?

The anniversary of the project is approaching, and this will signal the conclusion of the data-gathering stage.  As data-gathering for this project draws to a close the focus will  shift to analysis and writing up of findings.

I will continue to conduct interviews until May 22nd 2016, mostly around Melbourne or online, so if you are interested please get in touch.


Update – Surveys Now Closed

28th May 2016 –   The surveys for Goth – Just a Phase? are now closed.  I always welcome talking to people about their experiences in the Goth subculture, so please contact me directly if you wish to be involved.

Sureys Closed Small

 

 

  CLOSED 10Quick WEB MINI Whitby RED

Thank you again to everyone who responded.


Australian Interviews conducted over the last few months in  Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane  as well as online  have provided the opportunity to talk with some fantastic people, all of whom have made valuable contributions to this project.

I have been interested to hear the different perspectives on the scene, individual understandings and experiences of Goth sub/culture and some of the quirks of belonging as a Goth – especially for those who have been involved in the scene for a long time.  Hearing how people  interpret the values of Goth culture, how Goths cope with change as well as the ongoing discussions around what is/not Goth/does it matter? and how we read those differences within the scene is fascinating.

Insights into how Goths in diverse geographic locations  – especially hot ones! – have altered their stylistic choices to suit their environment has been particularly interesting and an aspect of Goth identity which I hope to further explore.

Flinders St

In our conversations we covered topics as diverse as emerging new trends in the scene, music (always music!!!), changes in the club environment, hair techniques, elitism in Goth subculture, religion, ephemera and the value of Goth history, footwear, record stores, pubs, upcoming tours, new bands, image and style, Goth terminology, flour, band T-shirts, travelling in the Goth scene, hanging out on the Post Office steps, Goth aesthetics, hats, belonging within the Goth subculture, frilly shirts, shoes and boots, growing older as a Goth, safety-pins and fishnet, reconnecting with old friends,  urban tribes, DIY fashion, redefining Goth for new generations, Goth nostalgia, preferred tipples, online shopping and everything else in between…

Thank you for your generosity!

Dadas 2  Dadas

Posters 2  Perth from the air

Post Office3


 

Just a Phase Interview

Thank you to Daniel for contacting me for an interview about my project on his podcast Cemetery Confessions.   It was great to discuss the Goth culture in this forum and I look forward to sharing findings from this research in the future.

For the interview please see:

http://www.thebelfry.rip/blog/2016/3/29/just-a-phase-cemetery-confessions


 

ELB 2015

For those people who have already donated time, effort and energy to this research – my heartfelt thanks and gratitude.

I look forward to sharing the stories of our scene and furthering understanding of Goth culture over the course of this project.

Emma.

 

 

Finding the right words

Finding the right words

A central pillar of commencing my research has been the identification of the term ‘Goth’ as being a culturally acceptable moniker for the broader phenomenon of the Gothic subculture and its various subsets. As discussed by Sweet[1], there is an apparent shortage of empirical and interview data from which to analyse and extend discourse on the Goth subculture and its participants; this research project seeks to contribute to rectifying this deficit. Survey reply volumes received to date well exceed my initial estimates for responses; consequently appropriate analysis of compiled data will take considerable time. In obtaining a high response rate I hope to best represent the subculture, statistically, and provide an extensive account of and insights into the personal, social and stylistic motivations of the scene.

Prior to writing the surveys for this study, I invested much time and consideration into finding the right words to describe the subculture and its participants. Among my initial methodologies was surveying myself and assessing my own attitudes and feelings towards the terminology used by, for, about and on the subculture before talking further about those terms with friends and acquaintances in the scene.

Chief among my decisions was a definitive “No Gothic” approach.

Selection of words used by survey respondents to describe & discuss Goth

Snapshot of words used by survey respondents to describe & discuss Goth

As described in the brief ‘notes on terminology’[2] provided at the start of my surveys, my own reading of the term Gothic is very much to do with identifiable periods of historical aesthetics, architecture and the Gothic revivalist tradition of the 19th century. All these feature heavily in the Goth subculture, and are indeed critical in defining its style, design and aesthetics.

However, for me, Goth is not Gothic. Goth exists in its own right as a personal style, an identity signifier, quite distinct from architecture or literary genres. Goth, in my view, has consummately established itself to such an extent that it can be viewed as its own phenomenon, its own thing beyond a subculture – a culture.

When writing my research questions, I was acutely aware that my positioning of Goth in all its forms as a discrete phenomenon may not be shared by all my fellow scene participants, and would most likely be challenged academically. In the interests of stimulating debate and furthering discussions on the notion of Goth as a culture which extends its importance throughout life, I felt this distinction was, and is, warranted.

As the first point of enquiry, my surveys ask respondents to chose a Goth aesthetic with which they most identify, respondents are further asked to describe the subculture and provide terms they most associate with the subculture[3]. Since commencing analysis of the initial response data, patterns are emerging which reveal the complexity of terminology used within the culture, and reflect the ongoing struggle of participants to self-identify using consistent catch-all terms or even a common set of terms.

Respondents exhibit a genuine desire to contribute to the discussion and understanding of the culture and its motivations, providing detailed personal accounts of their involvement in the culture and applying intellectual rigour to their answers to ensure their notions of subcultural identity are unambiguous. Rather than engaging in a collective “quasi-nostalgia for an imagined past”[4] participants appear to fully engage with efforts to authentically portray the culture and consistently express a desire to provide credible representations of the stylistic choices made when adopting such a recognisable subcultural identity. That the subculture can withstand such critique from within, illustrates the level of maturity reached by the culture and the conviction of some participants in its constancy beyond a youthful experiment.

Goth aesthetics (or Goth identity types)

Goth aesthetics (or Goth identity types)

The data to date demonstrates participants’ capacity to cogently self-analyse their relationships with Goth, as well as articulating a genuine desire to provide a measured and truthful description of stylistic and social convictions of the culture. In considering early data snapshots it is apparent the notion of conscious, individualised and considered self-identification is fundamental to participants. When provided with a list of seventeen recognised Goth aesthetics (or identity types) a significant proportion of respondents chose option 18 (‘other’ response category) and provided their own authentic interpretation of Goth.

A demonstration of the significance respondents place on terminology can further be seen in the vocabulary used by participants to describe their image, subcultural style and identity (as per the illustration above).  Preliminary analysis of free-text responses has demonstrated respondents have a thorough understanding of the social and cultural implications of their active association with an ‘outsider’ culture.

Additionally, several respondents have made direct email contact to elaborate further on their answers and provide clarification on terminology in relation to social interactions and beliefs in order to ensure suitable labels are applied to Goth identity in public discourse.

Goth subculture, like any other social group, relies on its own unconscious/unspoken rules and conventions, social etiquettes and visual signifiers to communicate belonging.  The broad spectrum of striking apparel evident in the now decades old scene, promotes stylistic flexibility within the culture, and allows participants to experiment with different images without abandoning fundamental Goth sensibilities.

The “sense of theatre… created and enhanced by the diversity of costumes and looks”[5] that the subculture now fosters, enables participants to embody varied incarnations of their Goth persona and express individualised interpretations of Goth style without losing that necessary sense of belonging to the culture. That Goth culture sustains such a diverse range of distinct ‘types’ of Goths is testament to the scene’s ability to adapt, embrace and indulge different passions and preoccupations – however we label them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Sweet, Derek R. More Than Goth: The Rhetorical Reclamation of the Subcultural Self Popular Communication, 2005, Vol.3(4), p.239-264 pp243

[2] See: isgothjustaphase.com – surveys

[3] For example: International Survey Question 5 “Choosing from the list below – with which of the Goth aesthetics do you most identify (choose most appropriate or provide your own answer)”

[4] Cherry, B. and Mellins, M. (2012), ‘Negotiating the Punk in Steampunk: Subculture, Fashion & Performative Identity’, Punk & Post-Punk 1: 1, pp. 5–25, doi: 10.1386/punk.1.1.5_1

[5] Christina Goulding & Michael Saren (2009) Performing identity: an analysis of gender expressions at the Whitby goth festival, Consumption Markets & Culture, 12:1, 27-46, DOI: 10.1080/10253860802560813