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Encyclopedia > Subculture

In sociology, anthropology and cultural studies, a subculture is a set of people with a set of behaviors and beliefs, culture, which could be distinct or hidden, that differentiate them from the larger culture to which they belong. If the subculture is characterized by a systematic opposition to the dominant culture, then it may be described as a counterculture. Sociology (from Latin: socius, companion; and the suffix -ology, the study of, from Greek λόγος, lógos, knowledge) is an academic and applied discipline that studies society and human social interaction. ... Anthropology (from Greek: ἀνθρωπος, anthropos, human being; and λόγος, logos, knowledge) is the study of humanity. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... For other uses, see Culture (disambiguation). ... In sociology, counterculture is a term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day, the cultural equivalent of political opposition. ...


As early as 1950 (p.361) David Riesman distinguished between a majority, "which passively accepted commercially provided styles and meanings, and a 'subculture' which actively sought a minority style...and interpreted it in accordance with subversive values" (Middleton 1990). David Riesman (born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 22, 1909; died in Binghamton, New York, May 10, 2002), was an United States sociologist, attorney, and educator. ... A majority is a subset of a group that is more than half of the entire group. ... Look up Commercial in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The definition of a minority group can vary, depending on specific context, but generally refers to either a sociological sub-group that does not form either a majority or a plurality of the total population, or a group that, while not necessarily a numerical minority, is disadvantaged or otherwise has... Subversion is an open source application for revision control. ... Value is a term that expresses the concept of worth in general, and it is thought to be connected to reasons for certain practices, policies or actions. ...


Sarah Thornton (1995), after Pierre Bourdieu (1986), described subcultural capital as the cultural knowledge and commodities acquired by members of a subculture, raising their status and helping differentiate themselves from members of other groups, while Roe (1990) uses the term symbolic capital. Sarah Thornton is a writer, ethnographer and sociologist of culture. ... Pierre Bourdieu (August 1, 1930 – January 23, 2002) was an acclaimed French sociologist whose work employed methods drawn from a wide range of disciplines: from philosophy and literary theory to sociology and anthropology. ...


It is important to mention that there is a subtle difference between a counterculture and a subculture. A subculture is an at least somewhat integrated component of a society, though clearly separated, while a counterculture is actively and openly opposed to many of the characteristics of a society. In sociology, counterculture is a term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day, the cultural equivalent of political opposition. ...


The term Scene is sometimes (wrongly) used interchangeably with Sub-culture

Contents

Identifying subcultures

Subcultures can be distinctive because of the age, race, ethnicity, class, and/or gender. The qualities that determine a subculture as distinct may be aesthetic, religious, political, sexual, or a combination of these factors. Members of a subculture will often signal their membership through a distinctive and symbolic use of style. Style includes fashions, mannerisms, and argot (Hebdige 1981). Look up style in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Argot (French for slang) is primarily slang used by various groups, including but not limited to thieves and other criminals, to prevent outsiders from understanding their conversations. ...


Therefore, the study of subculture often consists of the study of the symbolism attached to clothing, music and other visible affectations by members of the subculture, and also the ways in which these same symbols are interpreted by members of the dominant culture. "Thus," according to Middleton, "'the audience...manipulates the product (and hence the producer), no less than the other way round' (Riesman 1950: 361)." For example, when a member of a subculture "listens to music, even if no-one else is around, he[sic] listens in a context of imaginary 'others' - his listening is indeed often an effort to establish connection with them. In general what he perceives in the mass media is framed by his perception of the peer-groups to which he belongs. These groups not only rate the tunes but select for their members in more subtle ways what is to be 'heard' in each tune (ibid: 366)." jnhio


Change in subcultures

As such it may be difficult to identify subcultures because their style (particularly clothing and music) may often be adopted by mass culture for commercial purposes, as businesses will often seek to capitalize on the subversive allure of the subculture in search of cool, which remains valuable in the selling of any product. This process of cultural appropriation may often result in the death or evolution of the subculture, as its members adopt new styles which appear alien to mainstream society. A common example is the punk subculture of the United Kingdom, whose distinctive (and initially shocking) style of clothing was swiftly adopted by mass-market fashion companies once the subculture became a media interest. In this sense, many subcultures can be seen to be constantly evolving, as their members attempt to remain one step ahead of the dominant culture. In turn, this cyclical process provides a constant stream of styles and ideas which were commercially adopted by the mainstream culture. Look up Cool in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Cultural appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. ...


Subcultures resisting commercialization

Sometimes styles (particularly clothing and music) of a particular subculture are adopted by mass culture for commercial purposes, Businesses will often seek to capitalise on the subversive allure of subcultures in search of cool. Music-based subcultures are particularly vulnerable to this process, and so what may be considered a subculture at one stage in its history — such as jazz, goth, emo, punk, hip hop and rave cultures — may represent mainstream taste within a short period of time. Look up cool in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Jazz (disambiguation). ... This article is about the late 20th / early 21st century subculture. ... The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter. ... Punks at a music festival The punk subculture is a subculture that is based around punk rock music. ... Hip hop is a subculture, which is said to have begun with the work of DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, and Afrika Bambaattaa. ... This article is about a form of party. ...


This process of cultural appropriation may often result in the death or evolution of a subculture, as its members adopt new styles which are alien to the mainstream. Many subcultures can be seen to be constantly evolving, as their members attempt to remain one step ahead of the dominant culture. In turn, this process provides a constant stream of styles which may be commercially adopted. Some subcultures reject or modify the importance of style, stressing membership through the adoption of an ideology which may be much more resistant to commercial exploitation. Cultural appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. ... Political Ideologies Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      An ideology is an organized collection of ideas. ...


Hebdige on punk

According to Hebdige subcultural styles are distinguished from mainstream styles by being intentionally "fabricated", their constructedness, as different from conventional. As such he considers punk subculture to share the same "radical aesthetic practices" as dada and surrealism: "Like Duchamp's 'ready mades' - manufactured objects which qualified as art because he chose to call them such, the most unremarkable and inappropriate items - a pin, a plastic clothes peg, a television component, a razor blade, a tampon - could be brought within the province of punk (un)fashion...Objects borrowed from the most sordid of contexts found a place in punks' ensembles; lavatory chains were draped in graceful arcs across chests in plastic bin liners. Safety pins were taken out of their domestic 'utility' context and worn as gruesome ornaments through the cheek, ear or lip...fragments of school uniform (white bri-nylon shirts, school ties) were symbolically defiled (the shirts covered in graffiti, or fake blood; the ties left undone) and juxtaposed against leather drains or shocking pink mohair tops." (p.106-12) Punks at a music festival The punk subculture is a subculture that is based around punk rock music. ... Cover of the first edition of the publication, Dada. ... Max Ernst. ...


Further reading

  • Appadurai, Arjun (2003) Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Economy
  • Brodsky, Sasha (1994) "Punk and the Aesthetics of American Dystopia." Intersections: an interdisciplinary journal, Department of the Comparative History of Ideas. University of Washington. http://depts.washington.edu/chid/intersections.php?article=1994e
  • Kaminski, Marek M. (2004). Games Prisoners Play Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11721-7. http://webfiles.uci.edu/mkaminsk/www/book.html
  • McKay, George (1996) Senseless Acts of Beauty: Cultures of Resistance since the Sixties. London: Verso. ISBN 1-85984-028-0.
  • McKay, George (2005) Circular Breathing: The Cultural Politics of Jazz in Britain. Durham NC: Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-3573-5.
  • Roe, K. (1990). "Adolescents' Music Use", Popular Music Research. Sweden: Nordicom. Cited in Negus, Keith (1996). Popular Music in Theory: An Introduction. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 0-8195-6310-2.

Sources

  • Hebdige, Dick (1979). Subculture: The Meaning of Style (Routledge, March 10, 1981; softcover ISBN 0-415-03949-5). Cited in Negus, Keith (1996). Popular Music in Theory: An Introduction. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 0-8195-6310-2.
  • Huq, Rupa (2006) 'Beyond subculture' (Routledge, 2006; softcover ISBN 0-415-27815-5. Hardcover ISBN 0-415-27814-7
  • Riesman, David (1950). "Listening to popular music", American Quarterly, 2, p.359-71. Cited in Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). Studying Popular Music, p.155. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0-335-15275-9.
  • Thornton, Sarah (1995). Club Cultures: Music, Media, and Subcultural Capital. Cambridge: Polity Press. Cited in Negus, Keith (1996). Popular Music in Theory: An Introduction. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 0-8195-6310-2.

David Riesman (born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 22, 1909; died in Binghamton, New York, May 10, 2002), was an United States sociologist, attorney, and educator. ... Richard Middleton FBA is Professor of Music at Newcastle University in Newcastle upon Tyne. ...

See also

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Subculture

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To be in the running to win one of 5 double passes simply call 1900 969 469 before 11:59 pm on Sunday 16th February.
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