Alienation incorporated: 'F*** the mainstream music' in the mainstream

Karen B. Halnon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

17 Scopus citations


This article is about one of the most popular and profitable music styles in the United States and internationally, one that gives a loud, hostile and otherwise alienated 'finger' to the 'mainstream'. Drawing on four years of concert fieldwork and extensive music media analysis, the author illustrates how self-labeled 'white trash', 'rejects', 'failures' and 'freaks' delineate their alienation experiences in lyrics and stage performances, and how anti-commercialistic youth, seeking something 'different' and/or 'real' in a society of the spectacle, consume alienation as authenticity. The ultimate critique of this article is that alienation incorporated - or the commodification of alienated artists and their alienation experiences, and the assimilation of potentially troublesome and estranged anti-commercialistic consumer youth - not only transforms alienation (at both points of production and consumption) into a source of profit, but also forestalls more conscious, directed and pragmatic avenues of rebellion. This article extends and elaborates work on spectacle, consumer society, the 'globalization of nothing' and the 'commodification of dissent'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent Sociology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2005


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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