Izzy Robinson / History of Art and Design BA(Hons)

archive photo 3 punks


The 1970s were politically, societally, and economically dire times for the population of Great Britain. Austerity, globalization, violence, and fascism – underpinned by a sense of ungovernability – created a nationwide anxiety of an apocalyptic future. The prevailing mindset amongst the population of ‘No Future’ led British youth to band together, with the shared desire to wipe the slate clean and fight for a future. One of the most prominent of these movements in the 70s was punk.

Punk’s anarchical and nihilistic agendas – mixed with its bold DIY uniform and torn aesthetic, backed by its loud, fast-paced music scene – enabled the movement to shock the egocentric society of the mid-70s and ignite debate across all factions of the public. The do-it-yourself-with-whatever-you-can-scavenge-from-the-ruins ethos enabled neglected youth to voice their reactions to life in Britain and to liberate their generation from the established order, authority, and hierarchy and, in doing so, create a space for change and progression.

This dissertation discusses the cultural, societal, political, and economic environment – seen in the 1970s – necessary for the creation of counterculture movements such as punk. I will discuss, in detail, the origins and ideologies of punk, as well as how the Do It Yourself aesthetic and ethos was a crucial enabler for the youth of Britain. All the research and discussion throughout the essay will be in relation to the use of punk badges and how they were integral to this movement’s popularity and creation of moral panics.


Punk Rockers march in London
Punk Rockers march in London (1980)


Still from Punk Can Take It documentary
Still from Punk Can Take It (Documentary 1979. Dir. Julien Temple)


Still from Squatparty
Still from Squatparty (Documentary 1981. Dir. Phil Munnoch)