Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Sholeh Shahrokhi


In response to the socio-political climate of recent years, there has been a growing category of socially-engaged pop music. These works can be explicitly connected to their ideas about gender, race, and age. While boybands may not be perceived to create activist works of art, they do often have large public platforms with potential to reach out to a mass population of dedicated fans. They are given the power and privilege of a life in the limelight. As such, their messages may carry deeper meanings than at first glance. This thesis explores the impact of successful boybands by examining The Beatles, *NSYNC, and BTS in their intersection with race, gender, and sexuality, as well as their influence on youth culture. Their actions and influence in the discussion of race in America as well as the foundation of some of these bands’ music in hip-hop were analyzed. I discuss how these bands perform their own gender on and off the stage. This project also takes a look at the impact of boybands on the notion of sexuality and the construction of sexual identity among their fanbase. Finally, I argue that the relationship between art (i.e., music, performance, and poetry), the artist, and their audience is a key to understanding the significant role of these bands in shaping today’s youth culture both in the United States as well as across the globe.

Included in

History Commons