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“How Edge Are You?” Constructing Authentic Identities and Subcultural Boundaries in a Straightedge Internet Forum

Authors


Direct all correspondence to J. Patrick Williams, University of Georgia, Department of Sociology, 214-D Baldwin Hall, Athens, GA 30602–1611; e-mail: subzon@uga.edu.

Abstract

We analyze how participants in an internet forum dedicated to the straightedge subculture articulate and express subcultural identities and boundaries, with particular attention to how they accomplish these tasks in a computer-mediated context. Through participant observation, “focused discussions,” and interviews, we explore the complexity of identity-making processes in terms of cyberspace and subculture, conceptualizing identification as occurring at the intersection of biography, subculture, and technology. We find that the internet influences how individuals participate in subcultural communities by analyzing their claims for authenticity and how they position themselves in relation to subcultural boundaries. This article provides insight into the dialectic relationship between participation in a subculture and in an internet community.

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