Oh My Goth: The Commercialization of Goth as a Subculture

Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Subcultures are classified as a smaller group of people that share similar beliefs and set of ideals, they tend to have their own slang and ways to identify others of their community such as clothing similar tastes in music and even mannerisms. Goth started as an underground subculture based on hauntingly romantic clothing and music, but as it has grown it has come out of the shadows and into everyday life. From the literature we know that Goth is one of the few subcultures that has not been explored fully. It is also a subculture that is long standing and has evolved into multiple genres. Goth is one of a few subcultures that we see everywhere these days from teen focused department stores, to television, even something as simple as Barbie has been revamped in the Goth aesthetic. This drive me to my question, through its rise in popularity, how has Goth as a subculture become commodified? When talking to those in the subculture I found that many believe that it is becoming commodified but refuse to use the term mainstream. When answering this question, I performed a mixed method study and reached out to the Goth community through online forums for those willing to speak with me. I also looked at commercialized products with Goth in the name between now and several years ago such as clothing, TV shows, movies, music and looked at whether or not the accessibility to those things have increased. Some of things I discovered through interviews that, many in the subculture have a strong dislike of mass produced Goth items , several do see an increase in the amount of “Goth” products that are sold commercially and there is a huge distrust of the way Goth as a label is used to sell product. My content analysis backs up the interview statements about “Goth” products. It gave strong evidence of commodification through Hot Topic as a brand and the creation of Monster High dolls. While I believe I received a lot of information to answer my question, I do believe more interviews of more varying ages and of those not a part of the subculture could provide me with more well-rounded results. Overall Goth is a subculture that has been around for 40 plus years now and is ever changing. I believe that as it continues to thrive as a subculture we will be seeing it used more and more to sell items rather than what it truly is an embracement of the macabre. What my exploration into Goth commodification is showing us is how subcultures as whole become commodified. It starts small with the style becoming more accessible and soon it has warped what it means to be “Goth”. When these subcultures change dramatically they become a theme rather than a lifestyle.


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