Football Casuals, Fanzines, and Acid House: Working Class Subcultures, Emotional Communities, and Popular Individualism in 1980s and 1990s England

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This article illuminates the dynamics of two of the most significant yet neglected youth subcultures of the late twentieth century: football’s casual culture and the acid house scene. Through the lens of two influential fanzines, Liverpool’s The End and London’s Boy’s Own I make a series of arguments about the relationship between ‘popular individualism’, emotion and working class communities. I argue that while conceptualising the fanzines as ‘emotional communities’ can yield important insights about the role of feelings such as nostalgia in bonding people together, gendered sensibilities and satirical frameworks need to be taken into account in order to fully understand the subcultural affinities that the fanzines engendered. The framework of ‘popular individualism’ on the other hand can help to illuminate the tensions between individualism and collective belonging at a number of levels which the article discusses. The article concludes by noting that the analysis of these neglected subcultures offers fruitful ways of reconceptualising community and belonging in a period when traditional forms of working class organisation were in decline.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTwentieth Century British History
Early online date15 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2023

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