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DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


A term used since the late 1960s to describe, first, a form of pop music and, later, its associated youth S ubculture . As a musical description, punk was originally deployed by American writers to describe a form of rough, aggressive, teenage rock and roll. The term (which derived from criminal street slang) described a sound (harsh, guitar-driven), an attitude (“get out of my way!”), and a form of production (cheap, do-it-yourself). When British musicians began to make a similar sort of music in the mid-1970s (often directly influenced by American bands) journalists gave them the same label. In Britain, though, punk took on other connotations (see Savage, 1992 ). Punk groups like the Sex Pistols and the Clash were more self-conscious about their shock effect, and more aware of the cultural power of visual images. And it was these – spiky, dyed hair; rips and tears and safety pins; “forbidden” signs of sex and power and fascism; a deliberate ugliness (see Hebdige, 1979 ) – that were adopted by working-class youths across Britain, thus inspiring both local music-making scenes and a national punk subculture which became a mocking commentary on the Queen's Silver Jubilee. The punk look may have ended up as a tourist attraction, the punk sound just another style export, but the punk attitude continues to be an important, anarchical strand of popular music culture. 1979 : Subculture: ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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