This study explores the ideologies of the straight edge movement and how members negotiate their identities within the subculture. While the movement has origins in hardcore punk music in the 1980s, it appears that straight edge has evolved and expanded in the years since then. This study employs Durkheim’s theory of anomie, Merton’s strain theory, and Goffman’s theory of impression management in order to better understand the straight edge movement’s existence in society. Research involved six in-depth interviews with current straight edge members. Questions focused on understanding the ideologies that were important to each participant, as well as learning about the factors that influenced their entry into the movement, and the experiences that have defined their continuing involvement with the subculture. Findings indicated that participants entered the movement due to a firm commitment against substance use, which was often reinforced by negative interactions with alcohol, drugs, and addiction by peers and family. Each participant expressed their straight edge identity in a unique way, suggesting that the identity is fluid, negotiable, and able to be molded according to personal beliefs. As a subculture, straight edge is held together by its core values that encourage lifetime commitment and that form its members into a cultural collective that provides a collective identity for all individuals that claim the straight edge identity.


Nurse, Anne


Sociology and Anthropology




Straight Edge, Sociology, Independent Study

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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