The Persistence of Punk Rock: A Statistical Network Analysis of Underground Punk Worlds in Manchester and Liverpool 2013-2015

  • Joseph Watson

Student thesis: Phd


Scholars of social networks have, in recent years, devoted much attention to the development of methods for the analysis of increasingly complex social structures. One particular element of complexity in network methodology can be found when attempting to analyse networks with multiple types of nodes. Traditionally this data has been found and discussed as bipartite affiliation data, for example, the ties between women and social events that are found in the Southern Women dataset (Davis et. al, 1941). Simultaneously there has been a growing interest in the social networks of music worlds with scholars taking Crossley's (2008, 2009, 2015a, 2015b) lead in using Becker's (1974, 1976, 1982) art worlds theory as the foundation from which to analyse the networks of collective activity that form these music worlds using formal social network analysis. This thesis brings together both of these areas of research in analysing the underground punk music world of Manchester and Liverpool from 2013-2015. Research on music worlds in general, has so far neglected the pivotal role of venues in sustaining these worlds, whilst largely ignoring that conventions are dynamic in nature and have the ability to be formed and reformed in the social spaces of venues. Simultaneously, methodological research on networks has so far neglected networks of more than two types of nodes. This thesis addresses both of these concerns by focusing on venues and the active choices that bands make to perform at a small group of key venues that are the foci (Feld, 1981) of the underground punk world. In an empirical analysis of an underground punk network of musicians, bands and venues, it introduces a novel statistical method for testing for the prevalence of tripartite closure patterns, concluding that venue choice is not driven by overlapping band membership ties. Through further investigation of the bipartite network of bands and venues, it is argued that core bands reaffirm their choice of venues in every time period and so the world is sustained through a small number of key venues over time and that differing choices made by bands located in Manchester and Liverpool allow them to foster their own social capital whilst simultaneously offering them opportunities and imposing constraints on their ability to form and reform new conventions within these venues. Through this analysis, this thesis makes a unique contribution to academic understanding of music worlds, as well as introducing new methods for the analysis of tripartite structures that are generalisable to other music worlds and beyond.
Date of Award1 Aug 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorNick Crossley (Supervisor) & Johan Koskinen (Supervisor)


  • art worlds
  • music worlds
  • music
  • statistical modelling
  • sociology
  • punk
  • social network analysis
  • social statistics

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