The Spread of Subculture

Subcultures are unique social subgroups, as detailed by Ross Haenfler in Chapter Two of his book, Straightedge. They are unique identities with their own characteristics that intentionally distance or rebel against norms of society or other groups. They are a reaction to challenges of modern civilization and the failure to address those challenges.

These groups are never mentioned in Giddens’ Consequences of Modernity, however the idea of the “The primacy of place in pre-modern settings has been largely destroyed by disembedding and time-space distanciation. Place has become phantasmagoric because

the structures by means of which it is constituted are no longer locally organized. The local and the global, in other words, have become inextricably intertwined.” (Giddens 108). Disaffected people exist everywhere, throughout all of time, but before the rise of modernity, community restricted people in their own little bubbles. But modernity, with its mass displacement of community, the creation of society by industrialization. The older smaller frameworks breaking into a newer larger mold, a greater web of connections and shared feelings. Straightedge is a subcutlture with an emphasis on “Refusing drugs and alcohol has a variety of meanings for individual sXers, including purification, control, and the breaking abusive family patters.” (Haenfler 37). The “SXers” made their own community, a subculture is not only a group in resistance or disagreement with the norms of a society, is its own alternative community. It is binding of the similarly minded individuals into a group which shares and extols the same values. These values form a community against society, a culture within another culture, one of voluntary membership and shared interest. Subcultures develop many of their own aspects, such as slang, dress, music, and ideology. Subcultures are a reaction to society that individuals live in, the spreading of that net has been brought on by mass communications and global media which spread culture throughout the world. These along with other disembedding systems not only contributed to the conditions needed to create subculture, but the means to spread it. Straightedge stands as a subculture against addiction and against destruction of both people by themselves and the world around them. It invokes pledges and oaths to lifestyle of straightedge, arguably becoming more and more like its own community, with layers of membership and rules. Subculture has emerged as a growing group of subsets in modern society that have global reach and greater consequences. Subculture, is an evolution of community by disemmedding systems which have destroyed traditional “community” and created new and influential movements within modern society.

One thought on “The Spread of Subculture

  1. What were social relations like before modernization? ” ..before the rise of modernity, community restricted people in their own little bubbles.” Then you go on to explain how modernity displaces communities and in turn industrializes societies. This reminds me of Giddens’ topic of “strangers” in chapter three. He mentions that in pre-modern cultures, “the ‘stranger’ refers to a ‘whole person’– someone who comes from the outside and who is potentially suspect” (Giddens, 80). Nowadays, industrialization has allowed easier transportation and people of all cultures move around the world and are generally more accepted in non-familiar settings today, compared to back in the day. America today is a perfect example of mixed cultures. Considering all of the examples of cultural blending and subculture groups, we could still ask today: Culturally, is America a “melting pot” or a “salad bowl”?


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