The Role of Fanzines in the (Re)production of Subcultural Capital. The Authenticity, Taste and Performance of “Coolness” in the Zines of the Subculture of Czech White Power Skinheads in the 1990s


Taking a specific case of the subculture of the Czech “White Power skinheads” in the 1990s, this paper engages with the role of zines, zine-makers and other contributors (such as readers whose letters to the editors were published, or interviewees) in the (re)production of subcultural capital and the formation and reproduction of alternative hierarchies in the subcultural field. The author approaches zine-making as one of the fields of subcultural action within which inner hierarchies, as well as frontiers between “us” (the “true” skinheads) and “them”, were established as a result of articulatory practices. Based on the sample analysis of 80 Czech-language skinhead zines from the period 1992 – 1999, the author presents three alternative angles for approaching the concept of subcultural capital in zine analysis. The first approach presented focuses on claims on authenticity and the articulation of subcultural belonging. The author explores how the skinhead identity was articulated in fanzines in opposition to the antagonistic “other” substantiated by “inauthentic” skinheads, enemy subcultures and other “despicable” groups. The second example engages with the role of fanzine-makers and other contributors to zine content in moulding the shared knowledge of likes and dislikes. The author focuses on the White Power music scene that White Power skinheads were involved in and engages with the practices of shaping what was considered as “good” style and “good taste” in music. The third approach presented deals with zine-making as a valued set of skills and practices and the utilisation of the zine-platform for boosting the inner status of the individuals involved. The author explores how subculturists performed their “coolness” and “hipness” by exposing their photos, skills and stories to the broad skinhead-zine readerships.