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The Concept of Youth Subcultures

The Concept of
Youth Subcultures

The word 'culture'
suggests that there is a separate entity within the larger society with which
the larger society must contend. A subculture group is a social-cultural
formation that exists as a sort of island or enclave within the larger society.
One definition of subculture is: "subcultures are meaning systems, modes
of expression or life styles developed by groups in subordinate structural
positions in response to dominant meaning systems, and which reflect their
attempt to solve structural contradictions rising from the wider societal
context" (Michael Brake). For Brake membership of a subculture necessarily
involves membership of a class culture and the subculture may be an extension
of, or in opposition to, the class culture. The significance of subcultures for
their participants is that they offer a solution to structural dislocations
through the establishment of an achieved identity - the selection of certain
elements of style outside of those associated with the ascribed identity
offered by work, home, or school. He suggests that the majority of youth pass
through life without significant involvement in deviant subcultures. He says
that the role of youth culture involves offering symbolic elements that are
used by youth to construct an identity outside the restraints of class and
education.

Snejina Michailova,
in Exploring Subcultural Specificity in Socialist and Postsocialist
Organisations, presents the following definitions of subculture: (1)
Subcultures are distinct clusters of understandings, behaviors, and cultural
forms that identify groups of people in the organization. They differ
noticeably from the common organizational culture in which they are embedded,
either intensifying its understandings and practices or deviating from
them" (Trice and Beyer). (2) Subculture are a "...compromise solution
between two contradictory needs: the need to create and express autonomy and
difference and the need to maintain identifications to the culture within whose
boundaries the subculture develops" (Cohen)." Snejina adds:
"Subcultures posses their own meanings, their own way of coping with
rules, accepted to be valid for the organization, their own values structured
in specific hierarchies, they develop their own categorical language for
classifying events around them, they create their own symbolic order." A
key element in subcultures is sharedness - the sharing of a common set of
perspectives.

The common elements
of a subculture include: (1) relatively unique values and norms, (2) a special
slang not shared with society, (3) separate channels of communication, (4)
unique styles and fads, (5) a sense of primary group belonging seen in the use
of 'us' and 'them', (6) a hierarchy of social patterns that clarify the
criteria for prestige and leadership, (7) receptivity to the charisma of
leaders and (8) gratification of special unmet needs.

To suggest that
there is a youth subculture requires proof that they are a distinct group with
their own set of characteristic. This is true in terms of (1) aesthetics: youth
have a distinct style and taste that is expressed in their personal appearance
and an artistic flair expressed in spontaneity and creativity. Their values
include an emphasis on community, a sense of belonging and on collectively
shared ecstasy. Youth culture also exists as shown in their distinct (2)
morality: there is a strong emphasis on liberation from all restraints and on a
guiltless pursuit of pleasure. In the area of sexuality we find an aspect of
life where the individual is to experience themselves and others with complete
freedom and honesty. There is a combination of both individualism (youth
culture affirms the autonomy of each individual who has the 'right' to do their
own thing) and collectivism (many individuals are fused into a common experience).
The search for identity is at the core.
Список литературы

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