Youth Subcultures

Classic Youth Subcultures

Students should be able to draw on examples from a wide range of subcultures, both classic and contemporary, to illustrate key ideas and concepts in their work.

The term ‘subculture’ is often used to refer to any loosely identifiable, most often youth, group that appears to share some kind of common culture, such as music or pop culture tastes or fashion choices, which is in some way different to what would commonly be deemed ‘mainstream’ culture. However, this is a concept that in recent years some Sociologists have attempted to move beyond, arguing that this no longer adequately described the more fluid nature of contemporary social groupings. However, equally, some have argued that some contemporary cultural groupings still demonstrate the relatively stability and ‘substance’ of subcultures, and that therefore this still remains a useful and valid concept.

Students will (hopefully!) be interested to research examples of youth subcultures for themselves – having a wide range of examples can assist with understanding in theories and concepts. A good starting point is this Guardian article written by Wayne Hemingway, founder of Red or Dead:

Students can work in groups or individually to find out more about one of the subcultures featured in the Hemingway article. The Fred Perry documentary series is a particularly valuable source:

Teddy Boys and Rockers

Soul Boy




(Also, for anyone particularly interest in punk, a 3-part BBC4 documentary series:

After presenting their information in a format that fits in with the teaching schedule, students could then create individual timelines which briefly outline each subculture and that places these into a time-specific context.


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