Graduate Program

Communication Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Scott M. Walus

Thesis Committee Member

Angela S. Jacobs

Thesis Committee Member



This study uses qualitative methods of narrative interviewing and thematic analysis of narrative to explore the communicative phenomenon of youth punk concert fan story-telling. It explores how the phenomenon functions to construct the subculture of the I-57 youth punk concert fan music scene. Through methods of thematic analysis of narrative, the study works to deconstruct numerous implicit understandings and taken-for-granted assumptions that drive and govern interactions among youth punk music fans participating within the I-57 youth punk music scene. The study is broken down into four exploratory categories where meanings are derived and critically analyzed: youth, punk, fandom, and the I-57 music scene. The opening chapter justifies the significance of the youth punk concert fan story-telling phenomenon to the field of communication by discussing magnitude and how the phenomenon is largely unnoticed and underexplored (both critically and interpersonally). The chapter also discusses the personal investment of the researcher in the study and how (though largely romanticized) these personal understandings deserve further exploration both subjectively and within the bigger picture of communication studies. The second chapter conducts a thorough literature review of the relevant scholarly works on youth, punk, concert fandom, and the overall construction of music scenes that inform the study. The researcher continually makes linkages throughout the chapter between relevant literature and the particular research interests to position the study and lay the foundation for the ultimate contribution to the field in uniting discourses of critical and interpersonal literature under the umbrella of fandom. The study makes an appeal for further interpersonal and cultural studies of youth punk concert fans and the music scene. The study further ultimately contributes to the communication field by merging the conversations on cultural studies of concert fandom with interpersonal communication and narrative methods. The third chapter discusses the research methods of narrative interviewing, thematic analysis, and narrative inquiry. It addresses ethical and procedural concerns for data collection and analysis and (as a pilot study) ultimately provides a road map for the possible conducting of future similar studies. The methods chapter also positions the researcher as a reflexively self-aware individual who is conducting research within an area of great personal significance and meaning. The methods chapter outlines how the researcher ensures quality of data during the process of navigating the field. The fourth chapter discusses analysis and findings in the four areas of interest: youth, punk, concert fandom, and the I-57 music scene. The analysis discusses youth as elusive and episodic, characterized by assumed conflict, challenge, and growth. The analysis also discusses the elusiveness of punk, particularly as a term without a consensus definition but with definitions that are in constant flux and under constant scrutiny by the group assuming the subordinate punk position in subculture. The analysis discusses fandom as a subcultural system of policed behavior, fueled by implicit structures of discipline and consequence for performing non-prescribed and/or unaccepted fannish behavior. Finally, the analysis chapter discusses the I-57 music scene as a place for implicit youth, negotiated punk, and policed fandom, all meanings that are perpetuated and functions that are performed through the sharing and circulation of concert narrative. The fifth and final chapter provides a large scale synthesis of these ideas, articulating what they mean for the researcher, for future research, and for the field of communication studies in general. It discusses the limitations of the study in areas such as identity categories, scholar-fan tensions, and sample size. Upon conclusion of the chapter and thesis, the researcher articulates how the project has changed them as a scholar and as a fan, as well as how this new knowledge shapes the field of communication moving forward.