30 Years of Agitprop: The Representation of ‘Extreme’ Politics in Punk and Post-Punk Music Graphics in the United Kingdom from 1978 to 2008
This research analyses the dissemination of political and ideological content through the music graphics of selected bands associated with punk and post-punk. It concentrates on the anarcho-punk movement and the neo-fascist scene in the United Kingdom between 1978 and 2008. The aim is to show how music graphics were integral to the philosophy of politically engaged bands, and acted as systems of propaganda. The research further deconstructs these systems and reveals underlying narratives, intentions, tropes and visual codes.
The research presents three main novel contributions to scholarship and knowledge. The first is the creation and cataloguing of the most extensive archive to date of the material under analysis providing an instrumental resource for further research on the subject.
The second is the development of a methodology for analysing the dissemination of ideological and political content through graphic design objects in a subcultural context. This methodology allows for an exploration of the heretofore neglected area of the inter-relationship between dissemination of the message and specific graphic systems. The analysis is conducted through the use of multiple research methods, drawing upon qualitative research methodologies and the development of complementary methodologies devised for the field of graphic design. The focus is on the analysis of political camps and comparisons between them, noting points of commonality and divergence between dialogues of opposition within the common subcultural context.
The third contribution is the identification, analysis and interpretation of ‘extreme’ political music graphics produced by artists from the United Kingdom from 1978 to 2008. Covering an under-researched field and time span of subcultural movements that were critical for the punk subculture and the corresponding political groups, the analysis of the music graphics presents an insight into their political theory and strategies. This comparative work involved methodologies drawn from cultural studies, subcultural studies and historical studies, and can therefore be seen as a contribution to these fields as well as to that of graphic design studies.
RAPOSO, Ana Bastos (2012) – 30 Years of Agitprop: The Representation of ‘Extreme’ Politics in Punk and Post-Punk Music Graphics in the United Kingdom from 1978 to 2008. London: University of the Arts. PhD thesis.