Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. William Garland

Second Advisor

Dr. Erika Loeffler

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Jack Smith

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This thesis presents an ethnosemantic analysis of the punk rock subculture of western Michigan. Assertion of personal identity is demonstrated to be the underlying principle which organizes punk terminology for their music, cultural environment, and members of the subcultures. An analysis of punk song lyrics, visual style, and verbal style demonstrates that this assertion of identity is accomplished through opposition to the dominant American culture. Punk rock can then be understood as a subculture of cultural rebellion which allows its members to assert their individuality through violation of culturally accepted aesthetic values.