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Violence in the mosh pit: assault within the Australian punk scene


Barnes, A and White, R, Violence in the mosh pit: assault within the Australian punk scene, Current Issues in Criminal Justice, 31, (1) pp. 40-59. ISSN 1034-5329 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 Sydney Institute of Criminology

DOI: doi:10.1080/10345329.2018.1556281


The mosh pit is a unique crowd formation where audience members dance aggressively to engage with the music, the performers and each other. However, in this space, Australian punks may experience violations of bodily integrity. Multiple levels and types of transgression occur, as members break with mosh pit ethics by engaging in unwanted and unlawful sexual and physical violence. This case study provides an example of how group normative behaviour is confounded in liminal spaces – how transgression within such spaces undermines the supposed freedom experienced by its participants. Whilst the mosh pit is perceived to be a site governed by its own particular ethics, some defy these in word and practice. The rules of engagement are ambiguous, and offenders are able to rationalise their harms through neutralisation techniques and the diffusion of blame and responsibility. The consequence is that more often than not, offenders can use the unique physical nature of the mosh pit to execute personal vendettas and engage in intentional violence such as ‘crowd killing’ and sexual assault, with little social and legal consequence. Moreover, a certain culture of denial permeates participant responses to these issues. Throughout it all, the violence occurring has a decidedly masculine basis, reflecting overarching gender differences in interpersonal violence generally.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:assault, cultural criminology, denial, mosh pit, punk scene
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Criminology
Research Field:Criminological theories
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Barnes, A ( Ashleigh Barnes)
UTAS Author:White, R (Professor Rob White)
ID Code:139172
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2020-05-29
Last Modified:2020-07-31

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