Chapter one

1.0 Introduction The aim of this research is to explore the Steampunk community through a discourse with its members. Authentic voices of Steampunk members have been gathered to explore aspects of participation and common practices. This involves the community aspect of Steampunk and why it is important in terms of individual values. It further describes the impact of the Victorian aesthetic on Steampunk dress and music style and explores to which extent the style embeds and conveys communal and individual values. In this chapter, the study critiques the Steampunk phenomenon and gives reasons why it is important to explore this community. The data this research is constructed from has been derived from interviews with participants which are part of the community, observations and online research.

The theory generation or theory after approach that aims to develop a theory based on the collected data (Wolcott: 1992 in Punch, 1998, p.16) was chosen as this study explored the community based on the views of the participants. The narratives have been analysed using coding to suggest themes emerging from the data. This is described in detail in chapter two, the methods chapter. The results in the form of unedited transcripts can be found in the appendices.

1

In chapter three this study critically analyses the literature suggested by the analysis of the participants’ stories. For this reason this dissertation is combining the literature review with the discussion.

1.1 Contextualizing Steampunk Steampunk is fundamentally a postmodern movement (Pagliassotti, 2009) where nostalgia leads it back to an era when Britain was glamorous and craftsmanship and great inventions like the steam-engine had earned Britain’s status as the precursor of the industrial revolution. However, the Steampunk community strongly distances itself from

colonialism, racism and the ongoing exploitation of the lower classes (Steampunk Magazine 7, 2010). Steampunks attach great importance to the creation of unique styles and the combination of contemporary technology with handcrafted Victorian quality and beauty. Materials like brass, wood and leather are preferred to the lifeless, sterile designs of today. Steampunk taste is marked through a preference for complexity and ornamentation instead of today’s simplicity and minimalism (Pagliassotti, 2009).

2

Imagine a world that fuses Victorian aesthetic and fictional Victorian apparatuses like Captain Nemo’s Nautilus from Jules Verne’s (1870) book ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea’and The Time Travellers time machine in the eponymous novel by H.G. Wells (1895) and applies it to today’s world. A world that is seen through the eyes of a Victorian with technology of today powered by steam, as if the internal combustion engine had never been invented and where everything is possible. Steampunk is foremost an aesthetic that inspired authors like William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s (1992), ‘The Difference Engine’. The novel is set in an alternate nineteenth century where steam driven computers have been developed and determine the lives of the protagonists.

This aesthetic had been incorporated into a genre by the first Steampunk authors and adopted by the media. It was the author K.W Jeter that coined the term Steampunk. In a letter to the science fiction magazine Locus he writes: Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like “steampunks,” […] (Remy, 2006) Especially in America craftsmen and hobbyists have taken a shine to the modification of computers and other daily items to make them appear like they have been invented in the 19th century, which achieves a look of brass and wood with the functionality of modern day items.

3

This crafting is called tinkering, implying that it is rather non for profit, but several Steampunks make a living from the sale of their creations.

Several Steampunks have created modern day vehicles that are powered my batteries and let of steam as a show aspect, as the picture P1 in the appendix shows (Automotto, 2009). Hobbyists let their imagination run wild and there seem to be no limits with creations like the Steampunk tree house in Oakland, Tennessee (P2) and the “Never was Haul” (P3) which is: A self-propelled, 3-story Victorian house on wheels, and the home of the Traveling Academy of Unnatural Sciences, an intrepid group of explorers who are using steampowered engines to circumnavigate the globe (Makerfair, 2008) All seem to have been inspired by Jules Verne’s literature or rather the Disney productions of his novels.

Dressing up in Victorian wear with a science fictional look added to it through the wearing of goggles and tubes seems strange to us but is completely normal to Steampunks at such events, as the picture P4 in the appendix shows.

4

1.2 Steampunk and the Entertainment Industry Cosplay, which is the merging of the words costume and play and basically means to attend an event while wearing a costume, plays a big part in the Steampunk culture which can be seen at Science Fiction Conventions and other events alike. There, Steampunks follow their enjoyment of role-playing. Science fiction and Anime fans have adopted the

Steampunk aesthetic which can now be seen at several conventions like the ‘California Steampunk Convention’ in Sunnyvale, California (Slatt, 2008). Steampunk is often associated with Cyberpunk and shares a similar fan base and the rebellion theme with Cyberpunks and Goths which still especially influence Steampunk musicians (Steampunk Magazine 7, 2010).

Eastern influences can be heard in the music by Sunday Driver together with a certain theatricality the Steampunk scene is developing through its typical role play. The band is one of many bands that have been influenced by the Steampunk aesthetic and whose music is widely enjoyed by the Steampunk community. (Steampunk Magazine 2010, p. 54-56) As only the spectacular aesthetic side of the movement is known to the public through movies, broadcasts and other forms of media a study that explored the movement and its members, experiences and expectations seemed sensible.

5

Additionally the researcher interprets the data. The next chapter explains how this research was carried out.Therefore the aim of this research is to explore the phenomenon of Steampunk by critically analyzing the authentic voices of members of the Steampunk community. This study uses a qualitative approach rather than a quantitative one. The collected data comes in form of authentic narratives from participants. Qualitative research generates richer and more varied data that is dependent on the participant’s views. 1998. The research is interpretive because Steampunk members are interpreting their own stories and their membership of the community. 6 .1 Choice of Paradigm This research aims to gain an insight into the world of the Steampunk community in the UK. p. A quantitative approach that involves the measurement of variables and favours a scientific study (Punch. Chapter Two: Methodology 2.59) was neglected as it would not have offered individual in depth perceptions of the community I wanted to gather. The researcher is part of research and shapes the research through his own analysis. and critiques the main methods.

p.2. This offered the participants enough freedom to present their views in detail and made for richer information than any questionnaire could have offered. A semi-structured interview approach was selected (Fontana and Fray in Punch.169). definitions of situations and constructions of reality” (Punch. The interview was chosen as the best method because it is “a very good way of accessing people’s perceptions. The questions for the group interview and the online interview were pre-planned and standardized to make the coding easier. face-to-face and online). The wording and timing were chosen spontaneously so that the interview could rather take the form of a conversation. I formulated clear and substantively relevant questions that were interconnected in so far as they were based on participation in the Steampunk community. and participant observation. 7 . Having decided that this study would take a qualitative approach. meanings. The questions were chosen to explore the participant’s views on the areas of interest. The definition of an interview is “asking questions and receiving answers” (Punch. The individual interviews were less structured and followed the pace and direction of the interviewees. 1998). the next decision was over the choice of method. 2005.2 Choice of research method Two types of research were used for this study: the interview (individual and group interviews. 1998:175) with a few pre-planned open ended questions that explored the areas I was interested in like the dress style and the participant’s views on Steampunk music.

where the Steampunk members were visiting an exhibition of Steampunk. The interview was unstructured and open ended like the individual interviews in Oxford. semi-structured group interview with four participants. Another individual interview and participant observation were carried out on the 3rd of March in London at the flat of the founder of a Steampunk band. I acclimatised with the group. Three online interviews took place after the interviews. After the interview I joined the whole group that consisted of around 15 members at the last viewing of the Steampunk Exhibition. Some open ended questions were prepared before the interview and allowed the participants to talk spontaneously. triangulating with data gained in Oxford and London. The advantage of online interviews is that in a globalized world I could interview Steampunk members in other countries. At the exhibition two further single unstructured and informal interviews took place and I continued with participant observation. 8 .The first six interviews were carried out on the 21st of February 2010 at the King Charles Arms pub in Oxford. opposite the Museum of the History of Science. The first interview was taken in form of a formal. in form of a tea and informal conversations to build trust and gathered data through observation. I arrived at the restaurant that was chosen by the group to greet the first members.

9 . (I looked at the exhibition with the Steampunk members. For both events I dressed in semi-formal wear as both casual wear and the Victorian wear were felt to be inadequate. who could not be interviewed in the given timeframe. the Oxford and the London interviews were digitally recorded to be able to observe while gathering the interview data.Richer data in form of other member’s views. All interviews. interacting with them). 2. I had arranged to interview them via the brassgoggle. Sampling The first sample was comprised of participants who were randomly chosen. 1997) to enrich the found data and to learn about interaction within the community. a Steampunk community forum.com forum.105) It was taken at the Steampunk Exhibition at the Museum of the History of Science on its last day on the 21th of February. This was an opportunity to observe and interview the participants in a natural environment and which made everyone feel at ease. p. since I am not a member of the subculture but wanted to show enough respect.com forum. Further data was obtained through participant observation which required direct involvement as a “participant in peoples ‘daily lives’” (Jorgenson. was gathered through questioning members of the brassgoggle.3. (Punch. 1998.

2. which I shall call Clockmakers. To explore the views of musicians within the Steampunk community another interview was arranged via e-mail with a chosen Steampunk band in London. The founder of the band invited me to an informal gathering with the band and friends.4. This took place at a band member’s flat in London on the 6th of March 2010. Oxford Interviewees: Patrick is a male lawyer in his late 40s that is a big Science Fiction fan. He started out as a ‘bricolour’ (Strauss. Hannah is a female postgraduate music student and musician. Andrea and Ramona are female students in their early 20s. Jonathan is male and in his early 30’s. perceived to be in her late 40’s. Jeremy is a male charity worker in his mid-20s. The researcher took part in the gathering and had dinner with the participants. 1989) and is now a Steampunk artist that sells his work online and whose artwork was exhibited at the Steampunk exhibition in Oxford. This again was seen as the most suitable environment since it offered the comfort of the participants’ own home. Introducing the Participants The following names are not the participants’ names but have been chosen instead of letters to eliminate confusion too many letters might cause.The second sample of two Steampunk participants was chosen to gather the artists’ views and experiences of the community. 10 .

He is involved in a number of projects and crafts jewellery in his leisure time. Z is an unknown member of the forum) Dnbsdizzy : female. under 19 2. 2. However the group seemed friendly and happy to welcome someone that was interested in their culture. US citizen . Main themes were identified that emerged from the respondents answers (Kumar. Data Analysis After transcribing the data the Researcher coded the data in form of a content analysis. The response would have been a different one would the researcher have been a member of the subculture like Sarah Thornton in her study of the dance culture (Sarah Thornton. between 30 and 35. The full interview transcripts are to be found in the appendices. Steampunk artist and DJ Z: male. Internet Interviewees :( these are forum names. 1995). 2005). These main themes are values. The verbatim responses can be found in the results section.London Interviewee: George is a male foreign exchange executive in his mid-20’s and founder of a Steampunk band. US citizen. mid 30’s . 11 .6. Limitations Being in the role of an observer and interviewer which the group was aware off singled the researcher out. style.5. the media and music. bricolage. Steampunk artist Vernian Process: male.

1. (Veal. I tried to be neutral but a certain enthusiasm for the maker culture of Steampunk has further formed my views. As a German student that belongs to the middle classes I take an anti-establishment approach. status and role within society.However. My own interpretation of the observations and interviews has also shaped the study.1 Participant Observation: The Oxford interviews: The members that arrived early and before the researcher gave her a warm welcome. The reliability of qualitative research is therefore impossible to measure and the validity relies on the participants own interpretations. p. 2. 1992. as the study is based on a group of participants and their views it cannot be generalized and used as an overall study of the Steampunk subculture. 12 . A different researcher may come to different conclusions based on their level of knowledge. Therefore. “any research findings relate only to the subjects involved. Issues of validity and reliability have been tried to resolve by choosing a number of interviewees and conducting further online research to ground the findings.36) If the study would be based on the opinions and experiences of a different sample.00 pm: While everyone is ordering lunch general conversations about future and former gatherings together with planned projects are maintained throughout. at the time and space the research is carried out”.7. Results: 2. The rest of the group arrives later and everyone is immersed in conversations and the so called ‘tinkerers’ behold and compare each other’s pieces of work. the outcome of the study would differ.7.

9. It is a very friendly gathering where everyone seems is interested in the others thoughts and opinions. 2. The newest part of the project is an online card game that works like tic-tac-toe in Victorian aesthetic.45 pm: The interview with the founder of the band takes place.00 pm Everyone has dinner at the restaurant we met at. They look like the characters the members of the members of the band are playing.The group talks about gatherings at the Asylum (a Steampunk event in Lincoln) The interview takes place in the tea room next door. 13 . A lot of the friends are also business partners that are involved in the bands project. He seems relaxed and enthusiastic amid his friends.00 pm: A beautiful woman in an Arabian costume enters the flat and is being introduced as playwright that plans to write stories for the band or rather media group. At least 15 puppets are hanging on the wall. [This was not included in this study based on the limited time frame that did not allow for the transcription] 9. 9.00 pm the researcher arrives at the participant’s flat where a gathering of the band members and friends takes place and is being welcomed by the founder of the band.00 pm: The whole group head off to the exhibition where further interviews take place. The London Interview: 8. The Researcher talks with other Steampunks which are all dressed in individual styles that seem to comprise of bought and made things. The band members are all dressed in their stage costume and the ‘chocolatier’ as the character of this band is called is cooking for everyone.30 pm: During dinner the interview with the composer of the band takes place. at the beginning.00 pm-8. It is easy to imagine that this is a fertile ground for creative ideas. 4. He seems very enthusiastic about the whole project and talks about the importance of the percussion instrument the band built themselves. everyone seems to feel relaxed and in a good mood. She said that she felt very welcome. A transsexual woman tells the researcher that it has been like a ‘jigsaw puzzle falling into place’ when She found out that she was a Steampunk over someone mentioning the term.00 pm : Peter Bennett is holding a speech to thank for the involvement of the Steampunks and wishes everyone a great time 5.

It is about politeness and manners and respecting each other and being friendly and welcoming. I think that is a good thing. 7. the creativity. Steampunks create! That is the best thing about this culture. being polite and so forth. if people are taking on those values.2. All those things are really important and both Robert and I bemoan the impersonality of modern society. Are there certain values you feel you share with other Steampunks? Patrick: Yes in general there is a great common courtesy as you see and great human banter. Things get a bit impersonal. through the information we can access and the way we can communicate. George: We are certainly very wealthy as people.2. you know. Please tell me more about it. We like good manners and personal attention. You make sure you are a good representative of your subculture. Hannah: It’s not just about the way you dress. dnbsdizzy: The maker spirit. but treat them civilly. the "I can make that!” philosophy Z: Respect for everyone except those with no respect. You take the time to explain and are interested. that may one day decide to join. So what the movement is really celebrating is that we should take advantage of this time and live the way we want to live. Interview excerpts: (the full interviews can be found in the appendices) These have been coded and classified under main themes: Values: You said earlier that you liked the politics of it as well. to be original. it’s about the whole ethos of it. Style: 14 . a desire not to conform to the mainstream. On the other hand. Well-spoken and to be patient and understanding in regards to persons who like to find out about it. handmade things and in that way I hope Steampunk won’t become commercial. Don’t accept what you are given and make things the way you want! For me part of this is also the anticopyright and intellectual property movement.7.

Not wearing whatever everyone else is. is always a good start. and suggests something which goes a little deeper […] Suggesting that the goggles are what defines Steampunk would be a little limiting as there are many facets to this culture. the clothing being the most easily recognisable for people who aren't very familiar with the genre as a whole. I'm quite fond of that explanation cause it's a rather steampunkish one to me! That said.Patrick: Oh I come from the check tradition so I’ve always had several hats and suits… From my point of view it’s not much of a change…. but I would imagine that would be an individual’s evaluation. Dnbsdizzy: I make pretty much everything I wear. I suppose the goggles help tie in with the romanticised notions of Steampunks being inventors. For me it’s just to add accessories… It’s not a costume for me. To me. Ramona: I think even considering that there is an alternative. I take inspiration from the Victorian era. IMHO (in my honest opinion) a real Steampunk outfit would just be a NeoVictorian one. 2010): I think the best explanation I heard for the goggles love is that it means you're always prepared to get your hands dirty and tinker with something if you have to-. a Steampunk hoodie. I 15 .uk.you never know when you might need a good pair of goggles for something. a Steampunk piece of clothing is an altered or original vintage piece that would fit in during Victorian times or possibly in a fantasy novel like "Warlord of the Air What does wearing the goggles and other items mean to you? Is it more the tinkering aspect of them or that they are what differentiates someone as Steampunk? Jeremy (e-mail sent after interview): I'd say from what I've seen that the goggles are the quintessential accessory which helps define the Steampunk genre. is not Steampunk to me. Z: I know that a lot of Steampunk clothing is a very mainstream twist on the original Victorian ideals.co. For instance. the middle east. Pike (brassgoggles. It’s the first hint that we're not just dressing in Victoriana. while it may have art that is of a Steampunk vein on it. tinkers or airship captains. India and just any sort of cool vintage thing that feels Steampunk to me Vernian Process: I know that Steampunk fans like to glue gears and silly shit to their clothes.

Everything else originates from a trip to the DIY store. do you use recyclable material? Patrick: it depends. Where did you get your clothing from? Hannah: All over the place. If it is something I am happy with it stays. Ramona: Some pieces from Primark can look quite Steampunk. so we got watch faces and clock parts and gears and cogs. Well I put lenses into the goggles frame. It can really. So do you use old materials and new technology together? Patrick: Well the camera is a 1950’s camera […] and obviously the inside is the iphone.This used to be a piece of plastic pipe. So part of the joy is to Steampunk something that is already there. I made some of the jewelry and the hat is collected from bits and pieces. I sew this all on myself. If it is something I am not quite happy with I will break it down and recycle and reuse. We bought the contents of a watchmaker’s store. […] Where do you get your materials from? Hannah: We were really lucky. Here. There were just thousands of such things in boxes and we have just been making stuff from them ever since. Bricolage When you do your projects. if you combine it with other things. It’s also going to things like car-boot-sales and finding unusual things and putting them together in unusual ways 16 . like this jacket. I haven’t gotten further than this. I just had the idea to make such a case for the i-phone and it was just a question of what you really need Jeremy: I got these straps from a local shoe and belt maker and the goggles are obviously bought.by no means consider the goggles a mandatory accessory. But they also don't come off to me as superfluous or anything. This is a black coat and I had it for years and then I modified it. that’s why they are wobbly.

Y: It just makes it more well known. this is. I don’t think it ruins everything like some. if a piece of media brings new people who are genuinely interested in Steampunk. Z: Generally. If you go into that area of the exhibition you see creations of people that are totally different and everyone respects it. 17 . More commercialism can mean that people stop branching out and do just one thing and that would be a shame because if everyone does their own thing it stays interesting. On the other hand it can become commercialized and that ruins it. then it must be good. However. On the one hand more people start to hear about it and more people start to join in. It is very much a ‘the more the merrier’ subculture. What effect do the media have on Steampunk in your opinion? dnbsdizzy: The media are helping drive Steampunk to more mainstream recognition. but it is not changing the spirit of the movement just giving it more exposure. I am not anticommercialist. If it becomes mainstream you get people who say. “That is not mainstream.Media: Would you welcome it to become more mainstream? Jonathan: It’s one of those things.” That is what happened with Goth and Punk and so forth. Whenever a subculture goes mainstream it’s a double issue. but it definitely ruins subcultures. Commercialism does ruin subcultures. a negative one. Also with more people it tends to mean more control. What I do is very different from what friends do but we both accept that and appreciate that.

What is your perception of Steampunk music? Dnbsdizzy: I think that music is Steampunk if it has a vintage feel. or Steampunk lyrics. I’d say there is an aspect of classical music that would certainly fit within that. or feels Steampunk to the person making it. a song that would have played in the more bawdy and rowdy inns of London! 18 . or. […] What was the cause for you to create Steampunk music? 6. mixed with modern genres of rock and electronic music.Music: Would you say there is certain instrumentation in terms of Steampunk music? Patrick: Not really. Z: Very difficult to say. If the lyrics or tune tells a Steampunk story. or feels Victorian Vernian Process: It varies from artist to artist. I would say any music that either describes a scene or life during Victorian times or of a victorian-esque theme. it’s whatever people think it is. But an overlying theme is the use of old world styles.

Chapter Three: Literature Review and Discussion Having transcribed and analysed the interviews in the form of coding with ten Steampunk members. certain debates also emerged: whether Steampunk is a community or a subculture.1: The Subculture / Culture Debate In the 21st century a community can be understood as a “self-organized network of people with common agenda. This Steampunk collective emerged from the first Steampunk blogs and mailing lists as Vernian Process points out. or interest. who collaborate by sharing ideas. in this chapter. Vernian Process: In 2003 Steampunk was still a rather obscure corner of the internet. and other resources. five concepts emerged. the media and music. 3. I got to see the Steampunk fandom slowly grow and become what it is today. bricolage. He and I were in the very first Steampunk themed mailing list as far back as 1997. cause. So basically when I started VP. style.com) With regard to virtual communities who are based on online forums and discuss topics of mutual concern this is certainly true for the Steampunk community. and the only other Steampunk I knew at the time that is still active was Cory from the "Voyages Extraordinaire" blog. a culture or counterculture. These concepts are: values. the community soon developed into a group of people that distinguished itself from the mainstream culture through its 19 . information. (Businessdictionary. However. In addition. After its emergence through online discourses on literature. relevant data emerged about how a person becomes a member of the Steampunk community.

With Steampunk the makers influence the music and the music influences the makers. The other thing with Steampunk is that it is a look and not a genre.]It’s a melting pot. It's the DIY Sci. Especially members of a community that see 20 . [. When I speak of mainstream culture it is meant as a simplification of the rest of the population outside of the subculture. dnbsdizzy: Steampunk is taking inspiration from the past and applying to both the future and today It’s the ultimate recycling subculture from thrift store shopping to reusing old type writer keys. That means I look after bands and see what they are doing.interest in the Victorian era and the preference for Victorian aesthetic and dress style.. Most of the communication started on the internet where a debate about how to define the community started. This debate was mirrored in the participant’s views of the group they share interests with. Everything we do. All the art influences other forms of art. There is no opaque mass of people. On the question what Steampunk meant to them participants answers showed similarities and variations as the fallowing responses display. Patrick: It’s not just a literary genre or a fashion move or musical sub-genre. That is the way we grow. It’s all sorts of different things. It is also seeing where Steampunk goes next because there is always something there. It’s a whole culture in and of itself and it is accessible from the mainstream. That is the same you get in all subcultures. just individuals that congregate on shared ideas and practices.fi crafters dream These views show that Steampunk is far more than an aesthetic to its members and a lot of the community’s members see it as distinct from the wider culture or mainstream culture. Also in my case. We make no mystery about it. It’s a good community to live in. perform act or say […] it’s just an image which is us. because I am quite prepared to use my name on things […] Jonathan:[…]I do get involved in the whole Steampunk subculture.

Clarke stresses their shared norms with the ‘parent culture’. namely Clarke. Subcultures are groups of people who share the same norms and values as mainstream society but have adopted an own set of norms for reasons the members can relate to. values. Hall. Although dress. the use of certain material artefacts and territorial spaces” that signify their differentiation from the wider culture. The scholars of The Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in Birmingham. the culture they are a subset of and notes that they can either develop their own identity or be a strand of the parent culture. 1993)... Subcultural theories stem from ecological concepts of delinquency that were studied by the Chicago School of sociology in the 1940’s. 21 . undertakings and recreational activities as well as a different life-style set them apart from their parentculture essential life-experiences are still being shared.] activities. Jefferson and Roberts appropriated the term but continued to look at workingclass groups with tight boundaries that adhered to particular actions or were bound to specific places. The violent clashes and rivals with other subcultures were the main reason to study the subcultures otherness and dissidence with the dominant and parent cultures as well as the consumption of certain materials and artefacts. (Clarke et al. The centre was interested in exploring the extraordinary diversity of human behaviour and understood groups that share “[.themselves as members of a subculture stress their distinctiveness to the wider culture and their otherness.

grammar.but what exactly am i looking for . 1993). second of all.If that parent culture. The dominant culture is usually but not essentially the majority of people. 22 . manners. Most members of the forum shared a preference for a use of proper English and were articulate. the subculture exists within. due to expanded education and accumulation of wealth the middle classes influence grew. The dominant culture is the one controlling institutions such as educational and business establishments._.. It helps a lot with understanding what you're talking about. Toxickun: . (I purposefully left the grammar and spelling mistakes for comparison) elshoggotho: First of all. Some forum members react downright hostile as this excerpt of one of the forum communications shows. Since the industrialisation. the dominant culture forms the established values. It was concluded from observations regarding their form of conduct. It's considered rude when you post things while you could be lurking and reading threads.. Additionally. . Dru Pagliassotti (2009) that has conducted some research of the Steampunk community summarizes them as middle class Anglo-European and Japanese movement that is predominantly male dominated. which would be a great start. behaviour and use of language as well as their professions that all participants belong to the middle classes.. which have since been the dominating class. There are quite a few stickies. is the dominant culture sociologists speak of a counter culture (Clarke et al.. together with regulating the law and the political process.i was told to come browes here if im ever gonna become more like a steampunk.. Members that do not adhere to the ‘proper’ form of conduct are reminded of the right etiquette when posting. practices and customs and believes which then become the norms of society.

A weeaboo has stumbled ‘pon our board? Fetch ma raygun. as the hippie counterculture did. Katina: Are there certain values you feel you share with other Steampunks? Patrick: Yes in general there is a great common courtesy as you see and great human banter. the creativity. that may one day decide to join. You take the time to explain and are interested. dnbsdizzy: The maker spirit. Clarke (1976) points out the rather diffuse and less group. Steampunks create! That is the best thing about this culture.centred character of a counterculture. 23 . a desire not to conform to the mainstream. The members tend to be more individual but embrace common values and practices. You make sure you are a good representative of your subculture. you come off as someone who doesn't give much on other people's opinions. creativity and individuality is also cherished by all participants. This common value for a proper etiquette is mirrored in the results of the interviews. especially in regards to being original. the "I can make that!” philosophy Z: Respect for everyone except those with no respect. Yet this counterculture is not directly attacking the institutions that reproduce the ideologies of the dominant culture. This preference for individuality shows the nature of a modern subculture or counterculture.Seriously. Well-spoken and to be patient and understanding in regards to persons who like to find out about it. Members of the Steampunk culture do not only regard politeness and respectful behaviour as highly valuable. oh dear. but treat them civilly. These shared values bind the community and elevate it from the wider culture. You should adjust your attitude if you intend to stay for long […] Reverend Panic: Oh dear. as we have established that all participants belong to the dominant class. to be original.

They profit from being a subculture member and are usually costume makers. It makes it easy to share content without having to ask for the creator’s permission. Recognition for their ideas is more important to the individual than being financially rewarded for their ideas. as Patrick points out. Most community members make their living from their day jobs and creating Steampunk related artefacts is their chosen leisure activity. Creative commons bypasses copyright law. as is the Steampunk magazine that is created by members of the subculture. These ideas are licenced under creative commons. Patrick: In general a plagiarist won’t research things properly. When we post things on the forum for criticism and critique and suggestions it’s because we are trying to make a better version that is truer to our original version and sometimes that requires a bit of objectivity from a third party. Inspiration plays a huge part in this maker culture.The movement this counterculture is leading is not marked through open protest. Within open source individuals create content to share with other members. Someone that just rips it off entirely. George. which some of the individuals of the community perceive to slow down innovation. venue owners or craftsmen. the interviewee that is the founder of the Steampunk band pointed out its implementation of the open source internet technologies. It is rather a reform within. They will take the first thing which is available. The community works together to create a better version. This forms a community of makers and inspires other community makers. However there are also Steampunks who sell their created items and some entrepreneurs that have bought into the Steampunk subculture. Steampunk is embracing technology and trying to put it to good use. 24 . that’s reprehensible.

The individual’s importance within the subculture rises and other members will treat the individual with more respect. Togetherness and community are cherished and produce something of value to the whole culture. Individuals like venue owners. 25 . creators or musicians define and create subcultural capital. Being a creative member of a subculture and involved in projects bestows someone with social status or ‘subcultural capital’ as Sarah Thornton (1995) calls the knowledge and commodities acquired by members of a subculture. It is knowledge that is accumulated through upbringing and education and bestows individuals with social status. Thornton coined her subcultural capital after Bourdiers (1998) theories of cultural capital. Through their posted creations and helpful comments individuals form a group of enthusiasts that are highly involved in the subculture. In a system where cultural hierarchies correspond to social ones it acts as a means to distinguish between classes and is mainly attributed to taste.However the hobbyists still have to adhere to certain etiquette where the original creator should be named to demonstrate respect and honour the individual and the original idea. Subcultural capital elevates an individual within a subculture. The knowledge and commodities take a new shape in the hands of the individual and enrich the subculture.

He looked at punk. Hall and Jefferson.4). Ideology is the worldview of individuals and can be understood as a set of ideas that determine our actions and goals in life. Sarah Thornton (1995.10) points out that. The meaning of style for the members of a subculture has been extensively studied by Dick Hebdige (1979). Steampunk Style The reform within is reflected by the Steampunk aesthetic. pp. Like the other members of the CCS. amongst others. Dylan Fox (2010. “a memo devoid of meaning”.2. “i speak through my clothes” outfits can be used as a tool to express ones ideology. p. Clarke. As Umberto Eco (1973) points out.91). one of the writers of the Steampunk magazine points out. He observed the potential of style as a tool to ‘provoke and disturb’ through being a ‘violation of authorized codes’ (Hebdige. 1979. Style is used as a means to assert that one is not an anonymous member of an homogeneous mass and is therefore an expression of one’s identity and individualism (ibid). Within a subculture style can be used by individuals to show the belonging to that particular subculture and ones identification with the subcultures’ values and ideology. that the path of least resistance for Steampunk is to become an aesthetic. To a Steampunk member style is first and foremost a tool of expression. p. to examine the meaning of style for these groups. Subcultual ideologies are means by which youth imagine their own and other social groups [and] assert their distinctive character. Hebdige predominantly studied deviant youth groups that attracted the attention of the media due to 26 .3. Rastafarian and hippie subcultures.

to blend in with the rest. These interview extracts show the Steampunk members views on the style of clothing they link with Steampunk. Dnbsdizzy: I make pretty much everything I wear.their flamboyant style. This style is obviously fabricated and declares the group different from the wider culture. From my point of view it’s not much of a change. the clothing being the most easily recognisable for people who aren't very familiar with the genre as a whole. and suggests something which goes a little deeper […] Suggesting that the goggles are what defines Steampunk would be a little limiting as there are many facets to this culture. the middle east. It is not a costume for me. like the punks and teddy boys. Just a few bits like the camera case. Their spectacular nature opposes the the tendency of the mainstream culture to ‘masquerade as nature’ (Barthes. otherwise my main clothing. For me it’s just to add accessories. I take inspiration from the Victorian era. For him the members of the subculture dress in a coherent style that is determined by the norms of the group. I suppose the goggles help tie in with the romanticised notions of Steampunks being inventors. It’s the first hint that we're not just dressing in Victoriana. Jeremy (e-mail sent after interview): I'd say from what I've seen that the goggles are the quintessential accessory which helps define the Steampunk genre. but I would imagine that would be an individual’s evaluation. Katina: What do you know about Steampunk clothing? Patrick: Oh I come from the check tradition so I’ve always had several hats and suits and was wearing a watch. India and just any sort of cool vintage thing that feels Steampunk to me 27 . tinkers or airship captains. 1972). Hebdige (1979) saw subcultural style as a ‘distinctive uniform’ or a defining artifact that is visible and symbols the belonging to the subculture.

Muggleton came to the conclusion that taste and style are individualized amongst his participants. Within his study of punk. Most members own a crafted pair of goggles they will wear at gatherings but it is not seen as a necessary item that defines someone as Steampunk. It is characteristic to oneself rather than determined by the norms of the group.75) takes the stand that contemporary subcultures are therefore essentially liminal and as such “characterised as much by ambiguity and diversity as by coherence and definition”. Muggleton (2000. p. Thornton’s study of the British club culture in the 1990’s showed that participants had the tendency of playing up the heterogeneity of the crowd they associated themselves with (Thornton. Victorian watches and check suits.99). Steampunks preference for an individual to a cohesive style is consistent with the observations of David Muggleton (2000) and Sarah Thornton (1995). 3.3. I interviewed a few members of the subculture to find out if the goggles are a main element of the Steampunk style. This can be ascribed to a lot of Goths that have entered the subculture due to their preference for the Victorian aesthetic. 1992. as Hebdige (1979) saw the subcultural style. At gatherings Steampunks show their individuality and creativity through a combination of gothic and vintage wear together with own creations. The responses were very similar to Jeremy’s. p.The neo-Victorian style is quite popular amongst Steampunks but cannot be seen as a ‘uniform’. The whole attire is then often worn at Steampunk gatherings or conventions. Bricolage: 28 . Some members wear Steampunk accessories on a daily basis like hats.

watch parts. old leather jackets anything that can be refashioned 29 . The tights are from eBay and these are charity shop brand new Doc Martins. old tribal jewellery. She is a gothic designer. most are hobbyists that enjoy crafting as a leisure activity. so we got watch faces and clock parts and gears and cogs. I take inspiration from the Victorian era. I created some of the badges like the eyeballs there.I polish them and make them nice and shiny. the middle east. I use skeleton keys. Dnbsdizzy: I make pretty much everything I wear. This is a black coat and I had it for years and then I modified it. antique stores or made from scratch. I got them half price. I sell gear and lots of watch parts out of brass. It is just a mixture of things and I make a lot of jewellery myself. I sew this all on myself.Steampunks enjoy transforming items of today through giving them a touch of Victorian aesthetic. India and just any sort of cool vintage thing that feels Steampunk to me Katina: What materials do you use for your projects and where do you get them from? Dnbsdizzy: thrift stores. velvets. I made some of the jewellery and the hat is collected from bits and pieces. There were just thousands of such things in boxes and we have just been making stuff from them ever since. £40 from Barnados. brocades. The creation process is quite individual for every member as these interview excerpts show. We were really lucky. Katina: Where do you get your materials from? Hannah: All over the place. We bought the contents of a watchmaker’s store. It’s also going to things like car-boot-sales and finding unusual things and putting them together in unusual ways. The suit is Jet Phoenix and it has got metal buckles on. Here. The research shows that although some of the participants that enjoy this activity may have a technical background.

Well I put lenses into the goggles’ frame. 1969) has been used by Hebdige (1979) to contextualise the DIY culture of the punk subculture. He collects and retains artefacts on a principle that they may at some point in time be suitable for the next project (Strauss. This used to be a piece of plastic pipe. the significance changes and a different message is conveyed. I haven’t gotten further than this.Jeremy: I got these straps from a local shoe and belt maker and the goggles are obviously bought. p. Especially clockwork pieces and faces. 1993. Steampunks. When the bricoleur relocates this object to use for his means. The items which are used within the activity of bricolage are artefacts with prior meanings.17). 30 . Objects are being used which carry meanings of valued life-styles and are transformed into a pattern that carries new meanings. It is seen as the “reordering and re-contextualisation of objects to communicate fresh meanings within a total system of significations” (Clarke et al. as Hannah uses them. p. are widely used to create jewellery and decorate laptops and cases. It shall be used to explain the importance of the tinkering activity of Steampunks. Strauss uses it to describe someone who crafts with ‘devious means’. 1969. Through every assembling of objects the characteristic dialog is changed.177). Everything else originates from a trip to the DIY store. E-bay second hand stores and markets like Hannah and Dnbsdizzy. The punk suffix in Steampunk is certainly no coincidence. derive their objects from car boot sales. Object and meaning create signs which take their significance from the culture they have been created in (ibid). A bricoleur makes due with whatever he has at hand. that’s why they are wobbly. as a result from the interviews. The concept of the ‘bricoleur’ (Levi Strauss.

It shows that it does not have to be brass or wood to fall within Steampunk. when they transform items that were intended for other uses like the skeleton keys Dnbsdizzy uses or Hannah’s use of ‘eyeballs’ that carry connotations of childish playfulness. representation character and individual style. Especially Jeremy’s view shows the hidden values behind the style. rather than taking initiative In the modern world objects need to be flexible and functional to compete with each other. Jeremy and Dnbsdizzy show the creativity so typical for the bricoleur. Consumption. p. Objects have an artificial character through the choice of cheap materials like plastic and unnatural colours which make them loose their decorative character.Even mainstream articles are appropriated and transformed into a new style. Baudrillard (cited in Kellner. Hannah. (Jameson quoted in Kellner. 1989. credit and advertisement have resulted in the emergence of new moralities based on amusement and indulgence rather than productivity.6) senses that “no society has 31 . One can speak of a fun society that has been debased in their values and objectified. Consumers buy into a whole series of products that are unable to fulfil their true needs. 1989) notes that modern objects have noticeably been stripped of their depth. Jeremy: I think typically people have become uncomfortable by being led. It is a celebration of one’s individualism that elevates oneself from the mainstream culture and at the same time symbolizes the belonging to the subculture and the intrinsic values.

The return to the pre-mass production and pre technology society of the 19th century marks the reminiscence to the subjective values of objects and their decorative purposes. 1989. Freud (quoted in Kellner. Priest (2009) gives details of Steampunk’s ‘philosophy of salvage and customization’ which she views as a criticism of the consumer culture and the predictability of mass production. This shows the politics of Steampunk which are inherent in the style. 35) It calls on everyone that is interested in Steampunk to send his or her articles. Steampunk is herewith taking a political stand and invests in sustainability and creativity. p. (Steampunk magazine 7. p.7) understood ‘the creation of the object world as a projection of subjective impulses and wishes’ which 32 . in a world that is ‘calamitously unsustainable’ (Sterling. the code that means to buy into the commodity culture of today. the violation of the code. Steampunks take the view that functional items should be beautiful and therefore modify them to meet their understanding of beauty. novels and poems and creates a communal piece of work often taking a political stand. 2008). which is fun and which everyone can get involved in.ever been saturated with signs and messages like this one”. In a time when everyone wears the same brands and styles Steampunk offers a refreshing new view on customization. The Steampunk magazine calls on its readers to choose the Steampunk culture as a way of life rather than just to dress up at conventions. This is the punk in Steampunk. It means using broken items and items from a long gone era to show that there is another way and that endless consumption does not fulfil true needs.

Some individuals can be part of a number of subcultures based on the activities they enjoy. These studies have criticised subcultural theories of the CCCS which are no longer applicable within our modern society. 3. showing that the appreciation of real and personal relationships is one of the values our fast lived society has lost. not only in relation to objects but also to other people. She notes ‘both Robert and I bemoan the impersonality of modern society’. However.4. Relationships are worthless and replaceable like the cheap mass produced objects consumers purchase. This is dependent on the individual’s commitment to the subculture. This trend has been noted by a number of sociologists like Muggleton (2000) that are involved in post-subcultural studies. Steampunk appreciate in depth conversations and cherish the relationships within the community. With our modern world in perspective this shows that subjects are being objectified by modern society.endow the consumption led society with new values and behaviours. Particularly Hannah’s interview makes this clear. not every member is aware of the subcultural ideology and values within Steampunk. Introduction to the Steampunk Subculture 33 .

It is a space where an individual can be liberal and choose his form of conduct. It made me find people with similar interests that were into what I was into. Katina: How did you first get in contact with Steampunk? dnbsdizzy: I started reading Jules Verne. as Z’s interview shows. Thirdly: A great community filled with interesting people willing to help others at all times! The interviews showed a lot of similarities. and went through a Victorian Goth phase before figuring out there was a name for the things I loved George: Well. Firstly: The refusal to allow corporations to control our purchasing habits and sell us generic items.Subcultural studies often neglected how and why an individual enters a subculture. As for George and Dnbsdizzy the community offers a way to get together with likeminded people that share ones interests. the invisible man and Sherlock Holms as a kid. Kaplan (1975) 34 . Secondly: It means living life with some of the etiquette and manners that the Victorian/Edwardian peoples possessed. Katina: What does Steampunk mean to you? Z: To me it means a few things. I always liked Victorian things. Most participants already had an interest in either the literature side or the Steampunk aesthetic. obviously without racism etc. As social animals we are in need of natural surroundings in company we appreciate and which shares our values. It is also a way to express one’s personal desires and creativity that cannot be expressed through ones occupation. The views and experiences of some of the participants should help us understand what made them enter the Steampunk subculture. I had an interest into the genre before even being aware of it and finding the name was very important to me.

In her study of club cultures Thornton (1996.explains leisure as a relatively self-determined activity that falls into one’s economically free time and which is psychologically pleasant in anticipation and recollection. Steampunk as a very open subculture is particularly avid to facilitate the entrance of new members. At the same time the communal identity of the subculture is shaped. A few of the participants like George noted that finding the name was very important. Such labels then act as membership cards as does the dress style of a subculture. It therefore shapes our emotional experiences and is a ‘celebration of human values’ as Aristotles shows in Politics and Metaphysics. p. This togetherness within a subculture which shares a set of values further forms the individual’s identity. which makes further research into the culture possible. A new reference group has been found that can be used for individual development. the community’s knowledge and practices. All members of society want to be ‘full-fledged members’ of a group as Cohen (1955) proposes. 47). 35 . Community and finding creative and active people that are ‘willing to help’ is of high value to Steampunks. as it shapes the individuals identity. The label comprehends the subcultures values. Consenting with the norms of the group rewards the individual with respect (Cohen. Typing Steampunk into Google opens a whole world of possibilities and knowledge an individual has at his disposal. p.111) describes the significance of the club culture members affinity with other members that unites them. 1955. The importance of the label for a member of a modern and slightly mysterious subculture like Steampunk can also be seen in the possibility to summarize the culture.

That is their protection method. If it becomes mainstream you get people who say. What effect do the media have on Steampunk in your opinion? 36 . It is very much a ‘the more the merrier’ subculture. but it definitely ruins subcultures.” That is what happened with Goth and Punk and so forth. What I do is very different from what friends do but we both accept that and appreciate that. Also with more people it tends to mean more control. If you go into that area of the exhibition you see creations of people that are totally different and everyone respects it. The Media Steampunk members have seen the media as both a tool that exposes the subculture and gives it more recognition amongst the public and as an apparatus that can destroy a subculture. More commercialism can mean that people stop branching out and do just one thing and that would be a shame because if everyone does their own thing it stays interesting.On the one hand more people start to hear about it and more people start to join in. We don’t want to do that because we want everyone to get involved so the way to protect. It’s you can’t steal something that is available to everyone. I don’t think it ruins everything like some. I am not anti-commercialist. Jonathan: It’s one of those things.5. On the other hand it can become commercialized and that ruins it. It’s like we are only a small group so nobody can ruin it. A lot of subcultures protect themselves by becoming elitist. . this is. 3. “That is not mainstream. It is to be very open. It is the opposite. Whenever a subculture goes mainstream it’s a double issue.As a movement Steampunk tries to offer a good example through its DIY customization practices and values of community. Commercialism does ruin subcultures. So are you trying to protect it in a way? Jonathan: I think a few of us are.

Members of the subculture and writers of the Steampunk magazine alike have acknowledged that Steampunk has already been incorporated into the mainstream through the media. Steampunk is a melting pot where everyone inspires each other. In fact the news media can strip down and dislocate the subculture’s style to convey their own meaning in their attempt to market it (Clarke et al. the deviance of the style that used to signify the subculture and distinguish it from the mainstream is lost. For Jonathan. the quality is also diminished as mass production has to be cost-effective. then it must be good. However. 1993). Especially movies like Alice in Wonderland and Sherlock Holmes have brought the Victorian fashion into the public eye. a negative one. 37 .dnbsdizzy: The media are helping drive Steampunk to more mainstream recognition. As a result of that. He stresses that should it become mainstream it will be more controlled. if a piece of media brings new people who are genuinely interested in Steampunk. He further notes that ‘commercialism ruins subcultures’. but it is not changing the spirit of the movement just giving it more exposure. The style becomes devoid of the specific-life context and is being appropriated by other groups that do not attach the same values and meanings to the style. Z: Generally. The items do not only lose their original significance. The exploitation by the media can cause a destruction of the subculture.

Even mainstream movies and mainstream media coverage have mediated 38 . Once ready-made Steampunk clothing is available the subculture has the option to create new styles. As Jonathan notes. 33) notes that some have expressed their concerns.Designers then incorporated the new trend into their runway fashion. soon to be available in high street stores. the media may “assimilate and bastardize Steampunk fashion”. The role of the Steampunk magazine shows that not all media means the kiss of death for a Subculture. Magazines that are written by members of the subculture define and distribute cultural knowledge and its coverage shows the community what is in or out of fashion. which the DIY culture should not have a problem with. ‘people stop to branch out’ and invest in the popular style due to the public interest. the media plays an important role in circulating subcultural capital. casualize it. As Thornton (1996) notes.” It calls on its readers to incorporate bits and pieces into the daily work wear and use it as a ‘way of being’. Subcultures are based around consumption. A solution to this problem in terms of style is presented by the Steampunk magazine. ironically. p. Once it is lowered to a passing trend the subcultural style loses its importance as a means to signify otherness. From there it is usually copied. Bulloff (2010). This again is embracing the customisation of clothing as a way to fight mass production and may make the fashion industry bypass the Steampunk aesthetic and look for trends elsewhere. which included media consumption. mass produced. What further destroys the creative means of the subculture is the resulting concentration on one style. However Bulloff. points out “that the only way to save Steampunk fashion from being consumed and pitched away is to. a writer for the Steampunk magazine (2010.

p. Steampunk Music The role of music as tool for creating identity has been generally neglected within the subcultural studies.subcultural knowledge. All members of the subculture seem to inspire each other and not just the tinkerers. Vernian Process: I've been a fan of Steampunk literature and other media since I was 7 years old watching re-runs of the Wild Wild West with my dad in the early 80's. It is certainly right that it draws more people in as well which can then inspire the community with their creativity. Hebdige (1979) noted its integral importance to the homology of the subcultural elements. Without TV shows like The Wild Wild West (1965) and movies like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) some of the Steampunk members would not have entered the subculture. Music is theorized to express and underline the values of the group. Homology is the suitability of the values. 19) notes the importance of music for the British youth and that their leisure activities and identities revolve around it. Jonathan: […] the makers influence the music and the music influences the makers […] 3. lifestyles and the individual experience that build a cultural whole. can have both assimilating and exposing powers. as the participants rightly pointed out. However. Musicians and dress makers alike are part of the creative process. Sarah Thornton (1996.6. Media coverage. 39 . like Vernian Process.

I want to feel a sense of the past. strings. and bass. drums. Musicians which were involved in the subculture incorporated their visions of Steampunk music. Z: Very difficult to say. I want to be transported by the lyrics and music to another place. If the lyrics or tune tells a Steampunk story. or. But an overlying theme is the use of old world styles. Although the Steampunk subculture used to be based around the Steampunk aesthetic. which suits the openness of the subculture. raucous barrooms or the deck of an airship. The following interview extracts show some of the participants individual opinions of Steampunk music. a song that would have played in the more bawdy and rowdy inns of London! The responses show that there are no set boundaries that define the music as Steampunk music. A feeling of the old Victorian times through the use of instrumentation and 40 . That's just my personal taste. the subculture soon incorporated music.It is a means to claim space through filling it with music. wind instruments. Katina: What is your perception of Steampunk music? Dnbsdizzy: I think that music is Steampunk if it has a vintage feel. but it's not as easy for me to get put into the Steampunk mood when the music I'm hearing is more or less straight-up alternative/punk rock. Exotic percussion. I would say any music that either describes a scene or life during Victorian times or of a victorian-esque theme. or feels Steampunk to the person making it. Y: It varies from artist to artist. mixed with modern genres of rock and electronic music. Not to say one can't make Steampunk music with just guitar. However perceptions vary what is considered Steampunk music. I also tend to like the bands which use an eclectic array of instruments. Today a number of bands can be grouped under Steampunk and it is starting to become an established subgenre. be it Victorian ballroom. or feels Victorian. or Steampunk lyrics. etc.

As music is a pre-existing commercial object the dominant class has already inscribed it with meaning. Here the stage persona of the artists can be the one of a magician or a scientist amongst others. Certain theatricality has been added to the stage show of almost all the bands with band members dressing up in Steampunk attire and engaging in the typical role play. Dressing up and seeing a performance of artists that all wear Steampunk attire makes the whole performance even more authentic. The alienation and dehumanisation themes of the cyberpunk music must have struck a chord with Steampunks. The musical object that has a potential fit with the values of the subculture’s inscribed meaning is undermined and fused with the focal concerns and experiences of the group. Brown (2003. A lot of the songs the subculture perceives as authentic tell stories and conjure a sense of an imagined past as Dnbsdizzy’s response shows. Punk music that is also close to the heart of Steampunk has its place within the culture through bands like Abney Park. Here again within the act of bricolage the object is appropriated. 215) explains the appropriation process music undergoes within a subculture. 41 .language is often attributed to Steampunk music. of not being able to change society despite the ‘you can do it’ attitude of Steampunk. This might be the feeling of being helpless within the modern world. pp. transformed and rearranged. 2005). The majority of the songs are rather dark and share the themes of alienation and dehumanisation with the electronic music that has been affected by the cyberpunk movement (Collins.

the roots of the style. The project is based on a play by a writer he hired with the band members taking on the participants roles in the play. In terms of instrumentation Steampunk artists can be creative and mix electronic sounds with classical chamber music. which is typical within Steampunk. The the founder of the band Vernian Process (2010) points out. went even a step further. if only an imagined one. As Patrick aptly formulates. Those were of a rather dark and cynical nature with cyberpunk tales finding an entrance into the scene which seems to be the main reason the electronic cyberpunk music has been appropriated by Steampunks. He created a whole media group of his band incorporating role-play. Musicians can and will be inspired by the scene and aesthetic integrating their own set of ideas. As derived from the interviews Steampunk fans tend to have a very eclectic taste in music. They listen to a variety of styles and not just to bands that fall under Steampunk.It gives the audience the possibility to play a part in the performance. and ‘artefacts of that world’ as George points out can be purchased 42 . A puppeteer has been engaged that creates puppets based on stories that derive from the play. the founder of the Steampunk band. which stresses the individuality a counterculture is identified through. With the steadily flux of the counter-culture the members tastes direct what it contains. ‘it’s what people think it is’. George. The stories will be filmed and put online for customers to stream. which is more apt to the original era. They are novels by Jules Verne and other early Steampunk writers. Bennett (1999) claims that music tastes have a tendency to undergo processes of individual selection and examination instead of communal standardisation.

The other is about a loving husband that loses his wife and brings her back to life through replacing her heart with a machine. 43 . however the machine is the saviour in this story.from the page. One of two songs the band released so far tell stories of an apprentice that has been betrayed by this boss and seeks revenge. conjuring up memories of Frankenstein. This again shows the rather dystopian character.

Conclusion: This study has introduced the reader to the world of Steampunk. Nevertheless. It has been shown that hierarchies do not exist in Steampunk as such. 44 . Material objects like artefacts and music are being organised into distinctive styles that express the group’s totality. as long as it is not taken away from them. The research has shown the possible importance of the Steampunk culture for the wider culture. It has offered an insight into the values Steampunk members share and the practices they engage in. The values and life-styles fit with the style and musical form and express and reinforce the group’s focal concerns. an active nature and respectful and behaviour. The interviews showed that important values amongst others are creativity. This conclusion summarizes the importance of the Steampunk culture and shows why I think the subculture is of importance to the entertainment industry. through the focal concerns it embraces and the innovation factor it poses. subcultural capital in form of knowledge and skills can make a member attain more respect amongst fellow Steampunks. The welcoming of George’s entrepreneurialism although it could be seen as buying into the subculture shows the openness to the new media. First-hand information was derived from face-to-face and online interviews of participants that are members of the subculture. Openness and friendliness are also cherished amongst Steampunk members. Steampunks are happy to share their wealth of creativity with the wider culture.

due to consisting of creative middle class individuals. The research established that individualism plays an enormous part in Steampunk. 2008) that leads us in a world where we are pure objects that consume and produce. They celebrate togetherness and community through musical festivals and gatherings where they wear Steampunk attire and respectfully socialize with each other. Steampunk is embracing new technology but gives it a touch of quality and aesthetic of the Victorian era. This way Steampunk may soon not just be a “pretty way of coping” with the truth that our society is helpless and constrained by the rigid and greedy oil-industry (Sterling. 45 . Steampunks take a stand and do not want to continue to live in a world of cheap commodities without character. which is due to the open nature of Steampunks and offers new entrants a way to see what this subculture is about before joining it.Individuals choose to enter the subculture based on their existing interests that link with the interests of Steampunks. The DIY culture is a way of saying no to blind consumption and mass production by customising everyday outfits and technical objects. The membership aspect of finding the name or label is quite important to them and offers a means to convey ones belonging to the subculture. Steampunks certainly do not want to live in an impersonal world where relationships are meaningless. Aspects of group life and individuality are exhibited online.

The key is to understand the values of the Steampunk culture and to nourish it instead of trying to exploit it as it. That Steampunks embrace commodities like movies and TV shows with a Steampunk character or aesthetic offers the culture industry the possibility to see it as a possible market.The Steampunk spirit that is embracing the open source movement is enriching the wider culture and more and more people are being drawn to its maker culture. This would only destroy a possible market. get together and become involved. It shows that the solution lies in being active. As a culture of digital natives Steampunks may show the wider culture that being led and passive is not the way out of this cheap consumer culture. It enables a steady communication and an aggregation of information that are at the community’s disposal. There is nothing stopping us from living out our creativity and coming up with solutions to existing problems. However it should not try to assimilate it. of taking the technology that is now widely available. as Gorge said in the interview. 46 . 2010) The music enjoyed by Steampunks is expressing and reinforcing the values of the group and spreading the word. The entertainment world of Steampunk is set to grow even further with a large number of possibilities. With the internet as the facilitator a world can be reached by Steampunk artists and entrepreneurs like George. At least that is the plan the Steampunk magazine seems to have for Steampunk (Steampunk magazine. These solutions can then be broadcasted and tried out around the globe. They may not dress up in Steampunk wear but they incorporate the Steampunk values.

The response may have offered more reliability if the researcher would have been a member of the subculture like Sarah Thornton in her study of the dance culture (Sarah Thornton. which are worth researching into. The community talks about movies and music that may be of interest to other Steampunks. 2005) and would require another participant observation and interviews of the same sample. It could be used as the starting point of a ‘before. As this research aimed at introducing Steampunk and informing the reader about the involved practices and Steampunks place in the wider culture the research did not go into great detail. What could be a better way to market than through fans that become brand ambassadors? The forum can be a great tool to start to introduce new products to the subculture without alienating it.and. A different sample however would have probably shown different findings. If I could do this study more thoroughly I would start with attending a Steampunk festival. which my research of the Steampunk forum showed. However the group welcomed the researcher and their opinions seemed open and honest. 1995). This offers marketers a great way for community marketing. The Steampunk forum alone is worth a research study and it is impossible to show all areas of culture Steampunk has had an impact on. to see the interaction of the 47 .after study’ (Kumar.Steampunks are inspired by current blockbusters and incorporate new ideas into their projects. I have purposefully left out postmodern theories like nostalgia and pastiche. It can be seen as a surface study that sparks the readers’ interest and invites people to conduct further research in various contexts.

members when the music plays. 48 . This way I could purely rely on my observations at the two gatherings and the interpretations of the participants.

New York: The Free Press Collins. London: Routledge Brown. London: Routledge Gibson.Dead Channel Surfing: the commonalities between cyberpunk literature and industrial music. B.Reference List: Barthes. (1997).automotto. S. or . (1998) Distinction:A Social Critque of the Judgement of Taste. Sociology Vol. K. (1979).annabotelho. and Thornton. P.(1955) Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang. style and musical taste. A. (1992) The Difference Engine Surrey: Gower Publishing Hashpaul (2009) Battery powered Whirlygig Emoto Steampunk scooter Available from: http://www. The Subcultures Reader. and Sterling. (2005) . (1972) Mythologies London: Paladin Bennett. 33 No. London: Polity 49 . 3 August 1999: 599–617 Botelo. The cultural logic of late capitalism. D. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Clarke (1976) Folk Devils and Moral Panics London: Greenwood Press Gelder. London: Methuen Jameson (1991) Postmodernism. A. London:Duke University Press Kellner. K.Subculture: The Meaning of Style. D. Jean Baudrillard: From Marxism to Postmodernism and Beyond. R. (1989).com/?p=534 ] [Accessed: 15/04/10] Bourdieu. W.org/entry/battery-powered-whirlygig-emoto-steampunk-scooter/] [Accessed: 12/04/10] Hebdige. A. ( 2003) Heavy Metal and Subcultural Theory: A Paradigmatic Case of Neglect? London: Polity Press Cohen. (1999) Subcultures or neo-tribes? Rethinking the relationship between youth. A (2008) Steampunk dance style creation Available from: http://www.

(2009) Does Steampunk have an Ideology? [online] Wordpress (2010) Available from: http://drupagliassotti.net/iki/library/the_users_guide_to_steampunk. (1870) Captain Nemo Paris: Hetzel Umberto Eco (1973) Philosophy.makairfair. [online] [Available from: http://steampunkworkshop.The Savage Mind.The Post Subcultures Reader. D. S. London: Sage Remy.html] Accessed:07/04/10] Thornton. J. D. (2002) . (2009) Does Steampunk have Politics? [online] [Available from:http://drupagliassotti.com/2007/08/allsorts-of-punk. D. (1998) Introduction to Social Research: Quantitative & Qualitative Approaches. R. London: Sage Publishing Maker Faire (2008) Neverwas Haul [online] n. (2008) The California Steampunk Convention. and the work of fiction London: Polity 50 .com/2009/02/13/does-steampunk-have-an-ideology/ [Accessed:26/03/10] Pagliassotti.1.shand. J. J.com?12232.. (2008) The User’s Guide to Steampunk [online] [Available from: http://adam.Kumar.com/the-california-steampunk-convention ] [Accessed: 26/04/10] Strauss. and why I think it’ll stick around [online] [Available from: http://theclockworkcentury. (2006) All Sorts of Punk [Available from: http://diewachen. K.com/2009/02/11/does-steampunk-have-politics/] [Accessed 27/03/10] Priest (2009) Steampunk: What it is. B. Media and Subcultural Capital London: Polity Press Verne. (1996) Club Cultures: Music. semiotics.htm Muggleton.html ] [Accessed on: 18/03/10] Slatt. (2005) Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners 2nd ed. 5th ed . London : Weidenfeld and Nicolson Sterling. [Available from: http:// www. L (1989) . why I came to like it. Oxford: Berg Pagliassotti.a.com/?p=165] [Accessed:03/04/10] Punch.

(1990) Course in General Linguistics 2nd ed. T (1994). (1895) Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea London: Schuster Bibliography: De Certeau. S. (2004) Digital music and subculture: Sharing files. and Goodwin. sharing styles [online] http:// firstmonday. (1996) Escape velocity: Cyberculture at the end of the century. (1996) On Record London: Routledge Frith. London: Penguin Books Leary.html] [Accessed 04/04/10] Frith. M. (1993) Modernity and Self-identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age 2nd ed. (1959) . S.html] Accessed:20/03/10] Wells. F. 2007 Annual Meeting.) The Steampunk Tree House :An Oakland based large-scale installation project [online] Available from: http://www. Conference Papers--American Sociological Association. Berkley. A.org/issues/issuep_2/ebare/index. (n. London: University of California Press Dery.com/Home.Wasserman. Cambridge: Polity Press Goffman. A.steamtreehouse. J and Patrick W. P. London: Hodder & Stoughton De Saussure. (2007) "Reconceptualising Punk through Ideology and Authenticity". Chaos & Cyber Culture. CA: Ronin Publishing Lewin. London: Duckworth Ebare.Performing Rites:Evaluating Popular Music. M. H.The Practice of Everyday Life. B (2000) Popular Music & Society London: Polity Press 51 .The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. E.G. Oxford: Oxford University Press Giddens. (1984). d.. Longhurst. S (1998) .

rochester. J. (2009) . (2010) The Clockwork Quartet [online] Saperia.Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader.html [Accessed 03/03/10] Wakefield.uk/forum/index.22847.co.php [Accessed on: 23/04/10] Stahl . London: Pluto Press Ward.html Storey.tripod.stm] [Accessed 04/04/10] 52 . (1990).edu/in_visible_culture/issue 2/stahl. G.clockworkquartet. (2010) [Available from: http://www.com/~warlight/AYTUL.php/topic. M.members.uk/1/hi/8593305. Postmodernism: The Twilight of the Real.com/characters.bbc.co. London: Pearson Toxickun (2010) Bleh someone told me to come here =w= [online] Available from: http://brassgoggles. (2010) Steampunks gather for great exhibition [online] [Available from: http://news. E. (1995) The Representation of the Working Class and Masculinity and Alan Sillitoe's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning [online] Hacettepe University Journal of English Language and Literature (1995)[ Available from: http://www.0.Özüm. (1999) Still ‘Winning Space?’: Updating Subcultural Theory [online] [Available from: http://www. E. N.html ] [Accessed:16/04/10] Saperia. A.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful