Subculture is a term of contemporary use, implemented since the twentieth century to identify certain groups of people who have specific social and cultural characteristics among them, but who do not share the ideology of the predominant culture of the region or country where they are located. For example, in a given country there may be more than one dominant religious belief, since it is faced with an increasingly multi-ethnic world. This subculture has their respective characteristics with which they identify, such as the meaning of some symbols, lifestyle, dress and language skills.


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What is subculture?

The term subculture is used to refer to a group of people who share certain behaviour, beliefs and attitudes that are different from the culture of their environment or context. Therefore, it is a culture inferior to the predominant culture of its community. The members of each subculture have common characteristics that differentiate them from the other members and, in turn, are united with the members of their subculture by sharing a similar appearance and lifestyle that can be easily distinguished.

History of the subculture

In the mid-twentieth century, in 1950, the American theorist and sociologist David Riesman observed that in a majority community there was a group of people who did not follow the same patterns of life. Riesman saw this subculture as a culture with its own peculiarities within the dominant culture.

In turn, several twentieth century theorists have conducted specialized studies on culture. This is the case of Dick Hebdige, social researcher, who published his book: Subculture: The Meaning of Style, in 1979 and which constitutes a valuable contribution to the cultural studies carried out at the Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCS) of the University of Birmingham, England, institution where he acquired his studies in the sociology part, thus Hebdige, is taken as an important reference when dealing with the subject of youth subcultures. In addition, Hebdige considers that members of a subculture, when validating their belonging to it, must have certain peculiarities such as style, clothing, language and/or the way of linking, so that the study towards a given subculture often lies in the association to a certain style of clothing, musical tastes, language, etc., among the individual members, since these attitudes contain an emotional and subjective charge only for that subculture.

Types of subculture

Subcultures by nationality

In some places of the world, it is usual the entrance of emigrants to another country, this population contains its own characteristics as: language, clothing, behaviors and other aptitudes, which belong and identify them with their place of origin, however, when their culture arrives to another region or continent is not predominant, therefore, it would be classified as a subculture. For example, these groups of people have centers in countries that are not of their origin, where they meet specifically to remember or live experiences similar to those of their native country, such as their gastronomy, clothing or lifestyle.

Religious subcultures

Around the world there are multiple beliefs and affinities towards a specific cosmovision, therefore, there is not only one religion and this variety of religious beliefs allows that in different regions exist different types of beliefs, not only one.

For example, in Argentina, where Catholicism is one of the most predominant beliefs, there are also different religious beliefs, such as the Protestant churches, the Seventh-day Adventist Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses, among other minor religions of great importance for their native countries but with communities in other continents, such as Judaism, Islam and Buddhism. In spite of this, in Argentina there is also the case of not belonging to a specific dogma or religious belief, such as atheism, agnostics and humanist currents.

Geographical or regional subcultures

Although several individuals share geographically in a given space-time context, they do not have the same beliefs, customs, traditions, ways of dressing, eating, language, among other things. It can be observed that within the same country different cultural peculiarities occur according to the region of that country, this could be denominated as regional identity, being certain factors characteristic or own of each region, factors that are more popular in certain parts. This is linked to what would be the sense of belonging of each individual according to their city of origin.

Racial subcultures

In each continent, country or/and region, certain racial groups predominate, such as, for example, the original ethnic groups, however, one lives in an increasingly racially varied world, where one’s own cultures predominate in a specific region, but there are people born in that region, but with parents of origin from another part of the world, however, these people acquire the characteristics of the site.

Hipster subculture

It is a contemporary subculture made up of young people and young adults who had their origins during the twentieth century, around 1950 and then reappeared at the end of the nineties. It is still popular today as it is characterized by an independent ideology which tries to move away from the predominant fashions by taking second-hand clothes, old-fashioned clothes or clothes bought in vintage stores. Thus, it is characterized by the use of unusual clothing and non-commercial musical tastes, including indie and alternative music. Although it could be a homogeneous subculture, there is a diversity of particularities among them, they do not have as much cohesion as other subcultures with well-defined characteristics, since they only seek to generate their own thought in their search for individuality through a contemporary and alternative lifestyle, outside of all conventionalism.

Gothic subculture

The Gothic subculture arises from the Romanticism of the nineteenth century, it is associated with satanic cults, go against religious dogma, and relate to death. Likewise, this subculture is related to the socio-cultural aspects of Europe in the Middle Ages, which is why its members were given the name “Gothic”, in reference to the artistic manifesto whose architectural style left aside the ideal of strength and greatness to focus on a magnificent beauty. At the end of the 20th century, around the 1970s and 1980s, this subculture began to flourish, with the influence of the Gothic rock bands of the time, literature and horror films. They try to express themselves, although not very successfully, since the culture of the predominant society does not share their ideals, such as their attraction to the color black, given that it is associated with mourning and death. Although his clothing focuses on the predominance of the use of this color, it also encompasses the Victorian style of the Renaissance and the Middle Ages such as the use of corsets and dresses with large embroidered details.

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Subculture. Recovered on 23 February, 2024, de Euston96:

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