Eschewing community: Black metal.

Venkatesh, V., Podoshen, J. S.,Urbaniak, K., & Wallin, J.J. (2015). Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 25, 66-81. DOI: 10.1002/casp.2197. 



There is a great deal of literature that examines community orientations, in particular consumption- based subcultures rooted in the appreciation of music scenes such as heavy metal and its subgenres. Much of this literature focuses on aspects of community maintenance, reaffirmation of shared identities and building of social bonds. In the present article, we report a study in which consumption of, and fandom in a specific scene in extreme metal, namely black metal, may lead to very unique consumer cultural orientations. Our analyses reveal that black metal fans’ identities reside in a realm outside of a desired collective identification and tightly knit community, but rather one that uses signification , or representational means to convey meaning and belonging, as a way to signal repugnance with society and a reverence of individuality. The study engages a mixed qualitative approach utilizing interviews, observational research and content analysis to demonstrate how self-identity related to the black metal music scene can thrive through an ideological and semiotic rejection of traditional community orientations seen in the majority of other extreme metal music scenes. This paper challenges traditional conceptualizations of group identity in music scenes by closely examining aspects of signification and fandom in black metal that represent a unique system of shared identities devoid of community building.