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Abstract

In this paper, I argue that the West German punk movement of the late 1970s represented a participatory engagement with cultural production that, for most of the 20th century, had been impossible due to the control of the culture industry and high cost of production equipment. With the advent of the photocopier and spread of copy shops across Germany along with the availability of recording equipment and recording media (both the cassette and the LP), punks were able to create a voice for themselves using the same technologies that previously had prevented the entrance of the amateur into the realm of mass cultural production. A result of great anger at and boredom with West German society, punk utilized these technologies in an attempt to break down walls of cultural and social conformity while simultaneously creating an independent cultural space free from, and opposed to, the established media. By redefining the use of these technologies to serve new communicative and participatory functions, punk heralded a new engagement with culture and technology that has not ceased to this day.

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