Subculture

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In sociology, anthropology and cultural studies, a subculture is a group of people with a culture (whether distinct or hidden) which differentiates them from the larger culture to which they belong, for example, if a particular subculture is characterized by a systematic opposition to the dominant culture, it may be described as a counterculture.

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Definition

As early as 1950, David Riesman distinguished between a majority, "which passively accepted commercially provided styles and meanings, and a 'subculture' which actively sought a minority style ... and interpreted it in accordance with subversive values".[1] In his 1979 book Subculture the Meaning of Style, Dick Hebdige argued that a subculture is a subversion to normalcy. He wrote that subcultures can be perceived as negative due to their nature of criticism to the dominant societal standard. Hebdige argued that subcultures bring together like-minded individuals who feel neglected by societal standards and allow them to develop a sense of identity.

In 1995, Sarah Thornton, drawing on Pierre Bourdieu, described "subcultural capital" as the cultural knowledge and commodities acquired by members of a subculture, raising their status and helping differentiate themselves from members of other groups.[2] In 2007, Ken Gelder proposed to distinguish subcultures from countercultures based on the level of immersion in society.[3] Gelder further proposed six key ways in which subcultures can be identified:

Identifying subcultures

The study of subcultures often consists of the study of symbolism attached to clothing, music and other visible affectations by members of subcultures, and also the ways in which these same symbols are interpreted by members of the dominant culture. According to Dick Hebdige, members of a subculture often signal their membership through a distinctive and symbolic use of style, which includes fashions, mannerisms, and argot.[4]

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