Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

David R. Dickens

Second Committee Member

Ranita Ray

Third Committee Member

Robert Futrell

Fourth Committee Member

Jay Coughtry

Number of Pages



Utilizing a mixed qualitative research methods design, including interviews, ethnographic field work, and analyzing historical documents, I examine the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) subculture, since its inception in the late 80s as a deviant subculture. Previous studies of raves and other music subcultures focus almost exclusively on the role of popularity in transforming the subculture. In this research, I found, in the case of EDM at least, a more complicated process in which structural factors such as mass media, public officials (politicians and law enforcement), and major music corporations played a prominent role in the transformation. Media coverage focused on sensationalized cases of widespread drug use, while public officials responded by passing and enforcing legislation that forced EDM organizers into more legitimate venues. This change in venue brought them to the attention of the music industry, who saw a new opportunity to make money. By “rationalizing” the production, distribution, and consumption (especially via corporate advertising) of electronic dance music for profit, the original subcultural, even countercultural, values of PLUR (peace, love, unity, respect), solidarity, and authenticity were undermined. These changes resulted in the group being transformed into what Horkheimer and Adorno ([1944] 1972) called a culture industry. Electronic dance music is today dominated by large-scale entertainment corporations who employ a formulaic marketing strategy in the production of EDM events for a mass audience.


Critical Theory; Deviance; Frankfurt School; Popular Culture; Subculture



File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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