Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Arts and Humanities

First Supervisor

Associate Professor Panizza Allmark

Second Supervisor

Dr Jude Elund


This thesis examines youth and rave culture from the late 1980s to the present. It considers the history as well as the global and local impact of rave. I provide a visual ethnographic study from 1999-2014, based on my work as a commercial photographer of the Perth, Western Australian scene. While critically reflecting on existing subcultural research this thesis adds another dimension – the effect that global corporations have had in reshaping subcultural practices, specifically the commodification of rave culture in the form of the contemporary electronic dance festival.

The research incorporates both qualitative and quantitative data to interrogate media coverage on rave culture as well as interviews and first hand experience within the rave scene. I analyse mainstream print and electronic media reporting of rave as a deviant youth subcultural practice linked to the use of the drug ecstasy. I consider the effect this had on rave and it’s rebranding to become known in contemporary times as EDM (electronic dance music). As a result I examine how rave has shifted from a youth subcultural activity to being not only mainstream and commercial, but also owned and controlled by global corporations. My discussion of the conventions of festival/music scenes will demonstrate how rave, which once operated outside ‘acceptable’ boundaries, has become a part of the conventional norm.

A unique aspect of this thesis is the inclusion and analysis of my photographs taken over a 15 year period that document the changes that occurred as rave transitioned from a subversive underground scene to corporate run multimillion dollar events. The photographs are also compiled into an accompanying monograph. The monograph allows for an immersive visual experience of non-staged event images and predetermined studio and location photographs. The book offers what words alone cannot fully engage with – a representation of what was and remains a highly visual scene, based on fashion, performance and settings.

Access Note

Access to this thesis is restricted to the exegesis.