Musical festivals and youth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Music festivals have a long and varied history, yet in the popular imagination outdoor pop and rock events in particular have become strongly associated with the romanticised imagery and ideals of the youth counterculture of the late-1960s. In this chapter, I explore the stereotypes associated with this romanticised heritage of festival culture, and with regard to political historian Michael Clarke’s (1982) discussion of sex, drugs, squalor and disorder, which he saw as key drivers of moral panic during the late-1960s and 1970s. These four areas are discussed in relation to 21st Century music festivals in the UK to demonstrate how the music festival experience has changed in response to the commercialisation, expansion, diversification and professionalisation of the sector since the mid-1990s. I question whether these changes serve to lessen youthful rebellion and to detract from the ‘traditional’ countercultural carnivalesque experience of the outdoor music festival.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBloomsbury Handbook of Popular Music and Youth Culture
EditorsAndy Bennett
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9781501333705
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2022


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