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Why Are Subcultures Important?

Why Are Subcultures Important?
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Subcultures can be found everywhere: from high school cliques to political groups. In fact, many famous people have been associated with subcultural groups. 

Subcultures play an important role in society.

They provide a sense of identity and belonging for those who belong to them. They also influence the way people behave and act.

To learn more about subcultures and their importance, take a look at the information below. 

What Is A Subculture? 

The subcultural theory was initially developed by sociology scholars in the 1920s.

These scholars explored the existence of behaviors that deviated from the societal norm. 

This theory was later added to by the Birmingham School.

The theory was used to investigate the ways in which people tended to join groups that participated collectively in behaviors that were deviant. 

Now, the term ‘subculture’ in academic circles is a bit controversial.

However, sociologists continue to study subcultures to uncover why exactly they form and what they can tell us about society. 

paper in the typewriter with subculture  text - nwb

Examples Of Subcultures 

A subculture is a group of people that share similar interests and/or values. It’s not necessary that all members of a subculture share the same beliefs and opinions.

However, they do tend to share some common traits. These traits may include:

  • Attitudes toward certain topics and social issues (e.g., politics)
  • Fashion choices (e.g., wearing black clothes)
  • Music preferences (e.g., listening to heavy metal)

Below, we’ve listed some famous subcultures from the past and present. Check them out to gain a better understanding of what a subculture is. 

Hippies 

hippies examples of subcultures - nwb

The hippie (or hippy) subculture began on college campuses in the US in the 1960s. It was a counter-cultural movement that rejected mainstream American life. 

Hippies tended to be white, middle-class teenagers who felt alienated by the materialism and repression associated with the middle-class lifestyle. 

They experimented with communal living, plant-based diets, and unconventional dress.

They advocated for non-violence and promoted the use of recreational hallucinogenic drug use. 

Mods 

The Mod subculture began in 1950s London. This subculture was focused on music and fashion. The group listened to power pop-rock groups such as The Who. 

In the 1960s, the Mods became involved in publicized clashes with the Rockers, a rival subculture.

This conflict inspired the term ‘moral panic’ (coined by sociologist Stanely Cohen). 

After 1965, the Mods became interested in pop art and psychedelia. Many Mods left London and continued to live the Mod lifestyle in many different parts of the world. 

Skaters

shirtless skater at sunset - nwb

The skater subculture began around the 1970s, however, it still persists today. This subculture values creativity, risk, and freedom. 

They have a deviant image because they use public spaces to experiment, creating the idea that skaters destroy public property (even though this is rarely the case).

The skater subculture also perceives competitiveness as non-authentic. Skaters apart of this subculture do not value competitiveness. 

Importance Of Subcultures

man wearing sunglasses during a shoot , importance of subcultures - nwb

Now that you have a clear understanding of what a subculture is, you’re likely still wondering, why are they considered important?

Below, we’ve listed some of the primary reasons why subcultures are an important aspect of our society. Take a look to learn more. 

Shared Identity 

Subcultures are important for the people who are a part of them because they provide an opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals and feel a sense of community. 

Many individuals who belong to a subculture report feeling a strong bond with other members of that subculture. Some even liken it to a familial bond. 

This can be important, particularly for people who have felt disenfranchised or misunderstood by society. It provides an opportunity for them to feel understood and express themselves. 

Diversity

In terms of the benefits to wider society, subcultures provide diversity. A monolithic culture would be particularly uninteresting and stagnant.

Subcultures provide diversity and variety in thought, music, fashion, sports, etc.

That isn’t to say that this variety is always positive or good, however, it is important for a society to be diverse. 

Resistance 

Different subcultures tend to be distinct from each other in nearly all ways – apart from one. They all constitute a form of resistance to an aspect of society. 

This resistance can be passive or active, based on the subculture’s intention to resist.

It can also be covert or overt, depending on how those outside of the subculture perceive the subculture’s resistance. 

Some subcultures are formed to be avidly and openly resistant. These groups may direct resistance at politicians and policymakers. 

For instance, the LGBT subculture directed resistance toward social attitudes and laws that were unjust and discriminatory toward people with certain sexual orientations and gender expressions.

Other subcultures may resist conformity and uniformity by focusing on something such as fashion. For instance, Goths resist by wearing dark and grungy clothing.  

Change 

Change comes as a consequence of the diversity in thought and the resistance of conformity brought by subcultures.

A monoculture would remain stagnant, stale, and likely, discriminatory. 

Subcultures can prevent this. They can allow for novel changes to occur within a society.

For instance, the LGBT subculture was responsible for bringing the discrimination and plight of queer people to light. 

Additionally, aspects of the fashion or music that is preferred by a particular subculture might one day end up making their way into the mainstream.

This can be both a positive and a negative occurrence.

Whilst diversity and change within a mainstream culture are great when a subculture becomes mainstream, important aspects of the subculture’s values and identity are often overlooked or forgotten. 

Conclusion 

The benefits of subcultures are numerous. They provide opportunities for people to connect with others who share similar interests.

They provide a means of expression and self-expression. They provide a sense of belonging and community. 

They also help to promote tolerance and acceptance of differences and also act as a source of resistance to societal norms and values.

Subcultures are important because they can lead to positive cultural change.

We hope that his article has helped you better understand subcultures so that you can engage with them in a positive manner.