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.: April 2007 --> Goths: Peaceful, articulate, educated

Goths: Peaceful, articulate, educated

» Has your teenager started wearing black and smoking clove cigarettes? Don't be afraid! A Sussex Univeristy study shows that most goths are articulate, sensitive, literature-loving romantics, who are likely to grow into a well-paid profession in their adult lives, "They won't like me saying it, but their lifestyle, unlike the punk scene, is a middle-class sub culture." Dr. Dunja Brill, Sussex University. (thanks, Ray!)
 [ 04.13.07 ]

1 Comment

I just wrote several versions of a very long reply to this, which I kept trying to shorten.

The gist of what I was trying to say is that these links have been popping up on and off for a year and some sites have had interesting discussions of them (there was something on MeFi in late January, for example).

But I used to be goth, and I specifically left the scene because I couldn't take the drama. This makes me wonder a lot about the sample used for the positive study - any goth knows that there's always tons of argument about what is and isn't goth, and that there are even some smaller groups that call themselves goth but that are rejected by most of the larger scene, except in some areas where they aren't, etc. "Goth" in the US is not the same as "goth" in the UK; both are different from Italy and Germany; etc. Even if the study focused entirely on the UK, there are many ways that the sample could have been affected (for example, the sort of people the study showed goths to be could have been the subset of goths most likely to take a survey... some won't, especially if the person giving the survey isn't goth).

It makes me think that the study that showed that many goths grow up to sedate, professional middle-class lives, and that the subculture is tame and supportive, might not have taken the importance of the club scene into account, along with the way drama is tacitly condoned there. The drama seems to both cause and result in the factionalization of most local scenes, and I've seen people be made extremely miserable by it. The vast majority of goths will readily acknowledge that, even if they don't like it, the drama is part and parcel of the scene, both because of the factionalization and because of some of the types of personality attracted to the scene.

In the positive UK study, it seemed to me like they largely talked to people who simply embraced a gothic aesthetic to some degree. It doesn't take a genius to note that someone who likes wine, historical clothing, and Poe/Keats/Baudelaire/etc is probably at least a little interested in their own education! They are, after all, people who have had the leisure, interest, and preceding education to embrace those things.

It also seemed like many conclusions of the study were more true of the UK than the US, both in terms of the occupations that goths might pursue and their general income levels. Most US goths that I've known are in the arts, social work (counseling or teaching), or some sort of computer job (programming or IT). Many in the arts are lower-middle-class and struggling, and grew up in a similar situation. It seems like the computer people are doing the best, and are the most like the people in the study. I've known a few goth laboratory scientists, but no medical doctors or dentists except maybe those who had a goth-ish phase as teenagers.

It was my experience that being actively goth was time-consuming (hair-dyeing, nail-polishing, makeup application, dressing, hunting down music and clothes, etc), probably too much so for someone in medical school or a residency... I suppose they could still be passively goth, but if they looked normal and never went to clubs, most goths I've known would regard them as someone with goth-friendly tastes rather than someone in the scene. & that's been the case with the few lawyers I met when I was goth... they hung around the fringes of the scene because they liked goth girls and maybe The Cure. I've known goths from all over the place, but I've never personally lived in a really large city like NYC or SF, so ymmv. My anecdotal sample is limited, too.



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