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Session 5: Subculture and Style

What is Subculture?

Subculture goes back to the 1800s and early studies refer to it as as deviant groups or urban underclass. It is also associated with post 1945 youth subcultures, defined as a 'group' who rebel against the mainstream; their beliefs don't always align with those of wider culture.

Mainstream culture is the organisation of a society into hierarchical structures shaped by politics, media, social and corporate interests and reflects the interests of powerful social groups which can only operate through agreement/consensus. "A subculture...signals a breakdown of consensus" as it involves a refusal to participate and desire to disrupt elements in mainstream culture (Hebdige). According to Ross Haenfler, those within a subculture share an identity and see themselves different to others, and 'many subcultures feature connections to particular music styles and fashions. Both serve as vehicles of self-expression and collective opposition'.

'New Age' Subculture

One example of a subculture is 'New Age', consisting of groups that share enthusiasm for creation of a new era full of harmony and enlightenment. They believe that a heightened spiritual consciousness and social/personal transformation can eradicate hunger, sickness, poverty, racism, sexism and war.The movement grew popular during the 1970s and 1980s through the teaching of people such as David Pangler, an American spiritual philosopher and self-described "practical mystic", and originates from ideas such as Hinduism and Buddhism.

Those a part of the new age subculture practice physic readings, tarot cards, yoga, mediation, astrology, reincarnation, crystal healing, natural healing and traditional medicines such as acupuncture, herbal therapy, natural foods. A lot of the music in this genre is instrumental and electronic, creating visions of a better future and world; celestial and ambient. Style usually includes long hair and dreadlocks but also short and brightly dyed with bright eccentric clothing such as Indian pyjamas panned and nomad tops.



  • Hebdige, D. Subculture: The Meaning of Style (pages 90 - 99​)










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