Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Leon H. Warshay

Second Advisor

Heather E. Dillaway

Third Advisor

Monica M. White


For many, the hardcore punk rock show experience can act as a way to ritualize participation (and reinforce meanings) in the identities one associates with the experience. Blumer's expressive crowd offers insight into how such ritualized, yet seemingly chaotic behavior provides to many a cathartic release in a socially-stimulated, approved, and maintained atmosphere. In the process, such a release has consequences for the Straightedge identity tied to the experience, since Straightedge and hardcore punk coexist in the social construction of a larger sub-culture.

In this study, participation as such in the Straightedge (a lifestyle-based, diffuse social movement in which one resists drugs) collective identity is examined. Those in the Straightedge subculture who do not attend shows, dance at shows, and attend shows without dancing were interviewed via asynchronous e-mailing (and a few phone interviews) to qualitatively compare the three groups based on how they experience being Straightedge at hardcore shows and in general. The dancing process was observed via participant observation of Straightedge and non-Straightedge dancers. Finally, an interview with some of the observed dancers was conducted using asynchronous emailing.

As the findings allow, the overall Straightedge collective identity is often tied to other "lower-level" identities, in this case as one who dances at hardcore shows. Here, identity maintenance is explained with an alternative form of Burke's Identity Control model, which in this study explains processes of group or social identity instead of role identity, as Burke et al. use it. The cathartic release of the expressive crowd (a la Blumer) is posited as the social situational aspect of (the adapted) Burke's Identity Control model to provide a subjective, yet structural Symbolic Interactionist account for this often-observed yet seldom-explained social phenomenon.