SUBCULTURES AND COUNTERCULTURES

 

 

Within any given society there are a variety of cultures.  Not only are there cultures that integrate with one another in a society, there are also a number of subcultures and countercultures that develop in a given society.  Subcultures and countercultures are created by generalizations, occupation, class, lifestyle, likes, dislikes, etc.

 

Subculture- a subculture is a group of individuals that do share some qualities that the majority of society share, but the group has its own values, beliefs, norms, behaviour, etc. Some subcultures are known as organizational culture.

 

Organizational Culture- is the way an organization deals with the environment.  This is only one type of subculture and it allows members to have solidarity, community, and social relationships that influence individual behaviour.

 

Subcultures tend to be created when society endures problems or enjoys common privileges. Most individuals within a subculture have common interests and beliefs. 

 

Counterculture- is a type of subculture that completely disregards society’s norms and values and creates new ones.  They tend to develop when people will not conform to the mainstream.  They have their own beliefs, problems with cultural integration, and have their own material culture.

 

Throughout history subcultures commonly exist within the teenage members in society.  Teenagers came onto the scene and created subcultures in the 1950’s.  Prior to the fifties teenagers were seen, but not heard.    The population grew drastically after WWII.  Soldiers came home and wanted to start families.  With the booming economy it was possible.

  Before the 1940’s, more specifically before WWII, youth were seen and not heard.  They took life seriously, helping with the war effort.  They took on jobs to help bring in money for their family.

  Once the war ended the role of teenagers quickly changed.  Teenagers no longer had to drop out of school because the economy was booming.  Teens were now staying in school and taking on part-time jobs.  These part-time jobs and allowances provided spending money for the youth of the decade.

  Were dependent on their parents, but also wanted their independence.

  The combination of spending and the need to be independent created the youth culture.

Before the 1950’s there was no music targeted at the youth.  Grandparents had the Charleston, parents had the jitterbug, and young blacks had rhythm and blues.  Until rock and roll white teens had no music to dance to.

Rock and Roll has its origins African American culture. Given the racists attitudes in the US, so-called "Black music" was rarely played on the radio and generally dismissed by white society.

This appealed to the youth and having their own incomes and allowances they could afford to buy their own radios, LP’, and 45’s.

By 1958 more than 70% of the records manufactured in the U.S were purchased by teens.

In 1954 Elvis came on the scene and he brought Rock and Roll to white society. Teenagers latched on to him and shortly thereafter Rock and Roll emerged as a musical genre. Distraught parents feared that their teens would be contaminated by the vulgar, over-sexed Rock and Roll stars like Elvis.

Adults did not accept this type of music.  Edgar Hoover- “Corrupting influence”
                                                                          Music Journal- “menace to morals”

Teens could not understand parents reactions- quote for a student from Rock & Roll Generation: Teen Life in the 50’s “Man, I believe the older generation just doesn’t want the younger generation to have fun.”

Singer Pat Boone was a solution for Parents, but he did not have the same affect as singers like Elvis.         –Did not drink, smoke, curse, or swivel his pelvis
                                             - Family man
                                             - Foot tapping and finger snapping

1957 two new acts came on the scene
                                                    - Everly Brothers
                                                    - Buddy Holly

Things changed by the end of the decade.  Rock and Roll in a severe crisis caused adults to grow even more concerned.
    1957- Little Richard enrolled in a Bible College
   1958- Elvis was drafted in to the army
            - Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13 year old cousin
   1959- Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Dion DiMucci, and the Big Bopper were all                                  
              killed in a plane crash
            - Chuck Berry was sentenced to 2 years in prison

 

 

Teenagers had money to spend and they just didn’t spend it on records and radios.  Lead to them having their own version of the American Dream.

Teens were spending more than 9 billion dollars a year.
                        - 6 billion from their allowances
                        - 3 billion from their own earnings

They had the liberty to buy what they wanted and became great sales targets for everything

Delinquency was also on the rise.  Adults blamed the new music, but the more parents and adults opposed it, the more popular it became with the youth.

Not all teens would have joined gangs or become delinquents, but they enjoyed thinking about it.

1951 the main character, Holden Caulfield, of The Catcher and the Rye became a figure of the rebels.

There were also on screen rebels- Marlon Brando and James Dean

Sparked a new genre- Films and musicals.  Used teenage delinquency to make a profit.

By the 1960’s the lifestyle of this generation there were significant differences in attitudes and beliefs.  This is also known as the generation gap.  This created a youth counterculture that rejected the traditional values of the middle-class society and held very strong antiwar sentiment. 

So where did the Youth movement (protest) begin?

The Youth Movement started because of the Civil Rights movement.  The belief was that how could the U.S fight for another countries freedom when there was racism and discrimination occurring in their own country?  The first anti-war protest was “teach-ins”.  These were meant to educate the public about the war.

The youth were focusing on the freedom and rights for youth, but they were also protesting the Vietnam War.  The protest against the war was organized marches and protests.  They took a non- violent approach.  Once it became obvious that it was impossible to win the war the protest movement reached its peak. 

Although they wanted to use non-violent approaches, some anti-war demonstration turned violent, for example, the March on the Pentagon, Kent State University, and Detroit Riots.  The Kent State Incident led to the temporary closures of about 500 Universities.

One of the most famous anti-war demonstrations was Woodstock.  It was known as “Three Days of Peace and Music.”  When one mentions the counterculture of the 1960’s, Woodstock is the first term and image that is constructed.

 Although the 1960’s is when the teenagers brought about the most change, teenage subcultures and countercultures continued for years. 

 

Most of the time teenage subcultures revolve around music.

 

1950’s- Rock ’n’ Roll

 

1960’s- Rock ‘n’ Roll cont. and Protest music

 

1970’s- Disco

 

1980’s- Punk, Metal, Rap, Pop Idols

 

1990’s- Pop groups, Rap con’t, Grunge

 

2000- list you can complete

 

  

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