9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS17 Sociology of Celebration

Crossing Boundaries. The Social Meaning of Celebration in Berlin and Bangkok´s Party Scene

This paper focuses on the social meaning of partying and clubbing, arguing that a relevant change has slowly taken place over the last decades regarding the meaning associated with the transgression of everyday life boundaries that is intrinsic to the traditionally "exceptional" time of celebration and partying. This paper presents the results of field work realised in Berlin and Bangkok in 2007. Its main thesis is that the party scene has evolved towards a highly individualistic and individualised culture of partying, which does not entail much of a social (even communitarian) transgression of the social values and rules. The party scene is a sum of individuals concentrated on the atomised, hedonistic search for their immediate pleasure - and who do not regard celebration as a means to transgress or transform social life. Celebration has thus become a lifestyle (or, better said, a diorama of lifestyles) which is deeply rooted in late capitalistic forms of consumption. This lifestyle (or lifestyles) is orientated towards an accumulation of experiences, in which the quantity of the celebrated parties and accumulated experiences become the most relevant factor for the construction and reconstruction of one?s own identity, as well as a means, a necessary presentation card, for belonging to certain networks.