Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music



Major Professor

Leslie C. Gay, Jr.

Committee Members

Rachel M. Golden, Keith McClelland


This ethnography investigates the collective identity of the Knoxville punk community. I argue that punk rock culture in Knoxville exists as a proactive open community, and frame the discussion with the psychoanalytical work of collective identity by Jacques Lacan, notions of discourse described by James Gee, as well as definitions of community explored by Will Straw and David Hesmondhalgh. Knoxville punk musicians promote the sense of community with music through the value of cultural knowledge, providing physical areas for social space creation, and instructing young women musicians. Each factor provides a distinct element for the proactive movement in Knoxville punk.

In examining the familial nature of punk musicians in Knoxville, I illustrate how punk culture transcends previous notions of subcultural studies and promotes a collective identity through the desire for community progression. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of a youth culture in opposition to mainstream culture, the Knoxville punk community presents music performance and culture as a bond between friends. This bond produces a desire for punk culture to prosper, providing the inspiration for punk music’s agency of social proactivism in a self-contained community.

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