Sources and references

I would particularly like to thank my expert informants, Louis and Nathan Greenwood, for their input on this piece.

I have written about some of the more ‘academic’ debates on youth culture in this article: I have also tackled some of the questions about ‘moral panics’ and ‘media panics’ here: (both on my website).

Readers might also be interested in this piece about a parallel youth subculture, skateboarding, which can be downloaded from my Academia site here:

Sara Thornton’s book Club Cultures was published by Polity Press, 1995.

The two Daily Mail articles cited were published on 16 May 2008 and 16 August 2006. The report on the Russian government’s proposed emo ban was in the Guardian, 22 July 2008:

The term ‘structure of feeling’ comes from Raymond Williams, and is developed in his book The Long Revolution (1961). I have no compunctions about misusing it here.

The most accessible account of emo is Andy Greenwald’s Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers and Emo (New York: St. Martins Griffin, 2003). Written by a rock journalist, it veers between sarcastic disdain and overly romantic myth-making, but it is also genuinely informative.

Everybody Hurts by Leslie Simon and Trevor Kelley (New York: Harper, 2007) is a popular ‘guide’, which is similarly ambivalent.

The best academic source I’ve read is a Masters’ dissertation by Mitch Douglas Daschuk, ‘”It’s not a fashion statement, it’s a death wish”: subcultural power dynamics, niche-media knowledge construction and the “emo-kid” folk devil’ (University of Saskatoon, 2009). It makes a strong argument and is very well informed, but it’s not easy reading.

Short (and more questionable) introductions can be found in a chapter by Brian Bailey in the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Youth Culture (eds. S. Steinberg, P. Parmar and B. Richard: Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005); and of course on Wikipedia.

Alexis’ Petridis column ‘Youth cultures: what are they now?’ was in the Guardian, 20th March 2014.


Psychological studies of emo and self-harm include:

Definis-Govanovic, M. et al. (2009) ‘Suicide and emo youth subculture: a case analysis’, Coll. Antropol. 33, Suppl. 2: 173-5

Martin, Graham (2006) ‘Editorial: On suicide and subcultures’, Australian e-Journal for the Advancement of Mental Health 5(3): 1-5

Scott, Lydia and Chur-Hansen, Anna (2008) ‘The mental health literacy of rural adolescents: Emo subculture and SMS texting’, Australian Psychiatry 16(5): 359-362

Young, Robert et al. (2014) ‘Why alternative teenagers self-harm: exploring the link between non-sucidal self-injury, attempted suicide and adolescent identity’, BMC Psychiatry 14: 137

Zdanov, C. and Wright, B. (2012) ‘The representation of self-injury and suicide on emo social networking groups’, African Sociological Review 16(2): 81-101


Studies of emo and masculinity include:

De Boise, Sam (2014) ‘Cheer up, emo kid: rethinking the ‘crisis of masculinity in emo’, Popular Music 33(2): 225-242

Peters, Brian M. (2010) ‘Emo gay boys and subculture: postpunk queer youth and (re) thinking images of masculinity’, Journal of LGBT Youth 7(2): 129-146

Ryalls, Emily (2013) ‘Emo angst, masochism and masculinity in crisis’, Text and Performance Quarterly 33(2): 83-97

Ward, Michael R.M. The Emos: The re-traditionalisation of white, working-class masculinities through the ‘alternative scene’ Working Paper 150, Cardiff: Cardiff School of Social Sciences

The quotes from Jessica Hopper are taken from Greenwald’s Nothing Feels Good.


Material on the mediation of emo includes:

Chernoff, Nathalie and Widdicombe, Sue (2015) ‘”I was bored so…”: motivational accounts of participation in an online emo group’, Journal of Youth Studies 18(3): 305-321

Phillipov, Michelle (2010) ‘Generic misery music”? Emo and the problem of contemporary youth culture’, Media International Australia 136: 60-70

Seganti, Francesca and Smahel, David (2011) ‘Finding the meaning of emo in youths’ online social networking: a qualitative study of contemporary Italian emo’, First Monday 16:7 (online)


Contributions by emo haters can be found in the Uncyclopaedia, Urban Dictionary and on YouTube. See also this article:

Red, M. (2014) ‘Who are the “emos” anyway? Youth violence in Mexico City and the myth of the revolution’, Journal of Popular Music Studies 26(1): 101-120