Peace Punks and Punks Against Racism: Resource Mobilization and Frame Construction in the Punk Movement


  • Michael James Roberts San Diego State University
  • Ryan Moore Florida Atlantic University


music, social movements, punk rock


In recent years, scholars have begun to attend to the gap in our understanding of the relationship between music and social movements. One such example is Corte’s and Edwards’ “White Power Music and the Mobilization of Racist Social Movements.” Our research shares the perspective of Corte and Edwards (2008) which emphasizes the centrality of music to social movement organizations, especially in terms of resource mobilization, but rather than look at how punk music was used as an instrument by an external social movement like the White Power movement, we look at how punks themselves joined social movements and altered the dynamics of the movements they joined. We also provide examples of punk involvement in left wing social movements to emphasize the indeterminate nature of punk politics. We examine two such cases: the Rock Against Racism movement in the U.K., and the Peace movement in the U.S. In both cases, punks made use of their independent media as a means to provide an infrastructure for mobilization of resources to sustain the punks’ involvement in these social movements and the unique framing provided by punks, which altered the dynamic of the movements they joined. What makes punk an interesting case is that the “do-it-yourself” ethic of independent media construction that was at the centre of the punk movement made it possible for punks to make connections to various other social movements as well as alter the dynamics of those social movements. In these cases, punk music was not used as a means toward an end, but rather punks themselves had a significant impact on these movements both in terms of resource mobilization and frame alignment.

Author Biographies

Michael James Roberts, San Diego State University

Michael Roberts is assistant professor of Sociology at San Diego State University. He has published articles in the areas of social theory, labor studies and popular music studies. His book Tell Tchaikovsky the News: the Problem of Rock-and-Roll in the Musicians' Union is due out next Spring with Duke University Press.

Ryan Moore, Florida Atlantic University

Ryan Moore is assistant professor of sociology at Florida Atlantic University. He has published articles in the areas of social theory, deviance, social movements, and ethnographic methods. His forthcoming book, Sells Like Teen Spirit: Music, Youth Culture, and Social Crisis, will be published by NYU Press in November 2009.