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A number of different theories have been suggested for the formation of youth subcultures:

A. A Natural Part of the Journey from Childhood to Adulthood
As discussed under the youth culture section, there is a journey from childhood to adulthood. Youth ban together for support into groups that function as half-way houses between the world of being a child and the world of being an adult. Here youth subcultures are about survival in an otherwise hostile world.

B. A Class Struggle Expressed Through The Use of Style
In the resistance through rituals understanding of culture the members are always striving against dominant classes; older generations and against those who conform. They are always trying to find ways to disrupt the ideological and generational oppression in order to crease spaces for themselves. The resistance through personal expression is often contrasted against the conformity of the ‘normals’. In many writings youth are counterposed against adults - they hate and avoid adults and oppose them because they represent authority. A dichotomy was created between, for example: Goths and Normals where Goths avoid and hate adults, oppose adults who represent authority and are deemed to resist; while Normals relate well to adults, consult adults with problems and are deemed to conform. Linda Forrester in a web article speaks of youth generated culture where visual communication is predominant and language is subservient to visual means of communications. Visual cultures include: skateboarders; graffiti artists; street dancers and street machiners which communicate through movement or gesture. These are periphery groups empowered by the space that they have created through visual representation. Their cultural production is recognised by mainstream culture and in that recognition they are given power to speak. The process empowers them and provides identity. Group control is managed through the visual display of creative talent, ie, skaters out-skate each other, graffiti artists out-image each other; street machines out-car each other; street dancers fight each other through art. In mainstream culture discourse is primarily verbal but in youth generated culture discourse is primarily visual. It is through style that criticism of performance and image occurs and it is through criticism that higher forms of visual representation occur.

C. A Rebellion Against the Dominant Culture Using Shock Tactics
Young people in creating subcultures are setting out to shock. One of the key ways in which they shock is through the clothes they wear. Oppositional subcultures (ie. Punk and Hip-hop subcultures) are movements dedicated to rebellion against the dominant culture.

D. A Construction of New Identities Based on Individualisation
The new ideas in youth culture suggest a more positive view of the role of youth in society. Youth is viewed as an active category - a sociocultural view of youth is introduced where youth are involved in the development of society through their creations. Youth must be allowed to exercise the power to bring change - they do so in their cultural expressions all the time. Youth culture is about individualism - an expanding degree of separation of individuals from their traditional ties and restrictions. As people have 'broken free' they feel a need to look for fixing points - material with which to form a new social and cultural identity. The motivation behind participating in the activities of a subculture involves coping with suffering (the sense of loss at being cut off from the past and hence one’s identity), ie. alienation, loneliness, meaningless, etc. The motive is to be reinstated into responsive and responsible relationships. The individualisation has produced post-traditional communities - because they are focussed on the individual they are looser and more fluid than traditional communities but they are still settings in which youth find self-expression and identity. The subculture is an identity-related substitute for the lost collective world of modernism but with the disintegration of tradition, subcultures has lost their identity-creating potential. There is a now a pluralisation of needs and interests that result from the process of individualisation and culturalisation - so culture ruptures are normal. Not only do these ruptures affect all social classes, but the traditional generational gap is also blurred. Alongside individualisation there is a tendency towards self-organisation - probably the new communities will be organised around the needs of the individuals and their interests. Douglas Rushkoff, in Playing the Future, suggests that as the world has become increasingly complex the children have adapted to its demands, and they have the ability to navigate it's terrain - adults must learn from them!

A whole new approach to the field of subculture theory is emerging. It is an approach that is critical of the subculture theory approach popular since the seventies.

3. The Increase of Youth Subcultures
A number of factors account for the increase in the number of subculture groups in society:

A. The Size of the Society
Charles Kraft in Anthropology for Christian Witness says: "larger societies will also develop more subgroupings. These subgroupings are usually referred to as subcultures."

B. The Rate of Change in the Society
In societies with slow pace of social change the transition to adulthood goes smoothly and youth are similar to their parents. There is a unity and a solidarity between the coming generation and the generation of parents. In societies undergoing rapid social change a smooth transition to adulthood is no longer possible and there is a strong dissimilarity with parent generations. Here an individual cannot reply on their parents identity patterns as they no longer fit into the social context. Because youth realise that they cannot learn from past experiences, they search for new identities that are relevant. In fact, the greater the change in a society the more intense and stronger the subcultures as people identify more with their subculture in order to find identity and security.

C. The Globalisation of the Society
The rate at which cultural objects and ideas are transmitted in large parts of the world today is a significant factor in the number of youth subculture groups that are identified. Where a society is connected to the global village through communication technology, they experience simultaneous pressures to unity and fragmentation.

D. The Position of Youth in the Society
People who are marginalised or deprived make their sense of loss known as they resist to the dominant culture. Where youth are connected to the center of the dominant culture they do not need to rebel or form counter-cultural groups.

E. The Generational Size in the Society
The size of a generation impacts on youth subcultures because the overall age structure within a society influences the social, economical and political make up of age groups. When the number of youth entering the market place drops, then youth as a portion of the total labour force also falls. This decline in youth as a market force, both as consumers and producers will significantly alter the social and political visibility of youth.

4. The Features of Youth Subcultures
Looking at various writings on youth culture the following features are noted (some of which may well overlap): style; language, music, class, rebellion, gender, art, rebellion, relationship to the dominant culture, degree of openness to outsiders, urban/rural living, etc. The following insights were gained from class interaction on youth subculture groups:

A. Class and Youth Subcultures
It was found that within different socio-economic groups subculture groups take on different characteristics and are based on different factors. Within the working class communities youth tend to have more interaction with parents and therefore don’t seem to rebel as much against their parents as youth in middle to upper classes. Youth subcultures in working class communities will show a greater among of gang activity, with subculture groups being defined around gangs in some areas. In middle class areas youth seem to form their subcultures around interests, such as sports.

B. Music and Youth Subcultures
Most subculture groups could be identified with a specific music genre and in some instances music was the defining characteristic around which the group was formed (such as with the following subcultures: Ravers, Metalheads, Homeboys, Ethno-hippies, Goths, Technos, Rastas and Punks). In other communities music is a key feature, but another factor would be the key characteristic, such as with Bladers, Bikers, Skaters, Surfers, etc.).

C. Family and Youth Subcultures
In working class families, we noted that families tend to have closer interaction and youth do not seem so intent on being different to their parents, whereas in other communities youth may deliberately choose a certain subculture group to reinforce their independence and even opposition to their parents. In upper-class communities (or among youth from upper-class homes) youth are given a lot more disposable income with which to engage in sports, computers, entertainment, etc. So they are able to engage in a greater diversity of pursuits - so there are possibly more subculture groups in middle to upper-class communities.

D. Fashion and Youth Subcultures
It was noted that fashion plays a role in all subculture groups and that some are more strongly defined by their fashion, while others take the clothing that relates to the music or sport to define the subculture group. Working class youth tend to place greater emphasis on fashion as it is the one way in which they can show off what they own, whereas middle class youth have other things to show off, such as homes, smart cars, fancy sound systems, etc.

5. The Types of Youth Subcultures
Snejina Michailova, in Exploring Subcultural Specificity in Socialist and Postsocialist Organisations, presents the following understanding of the types of subcultures based on their internal logic of development: (a) Stable Subcultures - these are functional and hierarchical and age-based. (b) Developing Subcultures - here there are two types, those that are (i) climbing - their role is becoming more important, and those that are (ii) climbing-down - their significance is being reduced. (c) Counter Cultures - those that confront and contradict the official culture, also called oppositional subcultures.

6. The Variety of Youth Subcultures
Youth workers should, through research and observation, seek to identify the various subculture groups within the community in which the youth group operates, to ensure that the group is able to help to meet the needs of the different groups. In Britain in the 1980s the following groups of youth were identified: Casuals, Rastas, Sloans, Goths, Punks and Straights. In South Africa in the 1990s the following youth subculture groups were identified: Socialite, Striver, Traditionalist, Independent, Uninvolved, Careful and Acceptor. In 1995 a market research project discovered that within the Black youth culture there are three main subcultures: the Rappers, Pantsulas and the Italians. While within the White youth subculture only thirty percent of youth identify with a subculture and the subcultures are far more numerous: alternatives, Punks, Goths, Technoids, Metalheads, Homeboys, Yuppies, Hippies and Grunge.

The following subculture groups were identified by students studying at the Baptist Theological College in South Africa: Achievers; Intellectuals; Belongers; Image-Conscious; Very Poor; Models; Heavy Metal Dudes; Rugby Boys; Metalheads; Hippies; Mainstream; Average Teenager; Fashion Fanatic; Intellectuals; Physical; Clubers; Family Centered; Workaholics; Pleasure Seekers; Hobby Fanatics; Religious Freaks; Head Banger; Punk; Home Boys; Skater; Gothics; Yuppies; Trendys; Rappers; Club-Hoppers; Metal Heads; Socialites; Independents; Uninvolved; Carefuls; Socialites - Pantsulas; Mapanga (Punks); Mapantsula; Strivers; Comrades; Preppy; Outrageous; Sexy; Sporty; Gothic/Satanists; Nerds; Intellectual Strivers; Socialites; Jokers; Gangsters; Independents; Traditionalists; Teenyboppers; Trendy Group; Arty Type; Alternative Group; Drug Culture; Gay Culture; Squatters/Vagrants Culture.

In the movie, The Breakfast Club, five teenagers are sent to detention for eight hours on a Saturday at their school (Shermer High School, Illinois). They are:
* Brian Johnson, a nerdy computer type, an intellectual who belongs to the Maths club
* Clair Standish, a ‘princess' - wealthy kid who is a popular type
* Andrew Clark - a sporty type who is in the school wrestling team
* Carl - a ‘criminal' type who has had a hard upbringing, a kid with an attitude
* Alison Reynolds - a strange girl, who is secretive, uncommunicative and dresses in black

The teacher, Richard Vernon, says that they have to write an essay that explains who they are. During the day in detention, these five young people who would otherwise never together socially begin to find out about each other. They share about their home, their parents, the things that they are able to do, and why they are in detention (they even end up sharing a dagga joint). Very soon they are bonding together. Someone asks the questions about whether they will still be friends when they see each other on Monday. Some admit that they would be ashamed to greet the other person if they are with their friends.

They get Brian to write the essay for the teacher. This is what he writes: Dear Mr Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention, what we did was wrong, but we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club.

The movie starts and ends with this letter being read. During the opening sequence the following quote by David Bowie is written across the screen, while the song by Simple Minds, Don't You Forget About Me, plays in the background: "And these children that you spit on as they try to change their world are immune to your consultations. They're quite aware of what they're going through."

In the opening scene where the letter is narrated by Brian, the reading ends with: "That's how we saw ourselves at 7 o'clock this morning. We were brainwashed."

When social workers start to research a subculture group they often find that the members of the subculture group are less that helpful. Consider the following quotes:

"It is highly unlikely that the members of any of the subcultures described in this book (Reggae, Hipsters, Beats, Teddy Boys, Mods, Skin Heads and Punks) would recognize themselves here. They are still less likely to welcome any efforts on our part to understand them. After all, we the sociologists and interested straights, threaten to kill with kindness the forms which we seek to elucidate...we should hardly be surprised to find our 'sympathetic' readings of subordinate culture are regarded by members of a subculture with just as much indifference and contempt as the hostile labels imposed by the courts and the press." From: Subculture: The Meaning of Style by Dick Hebdige, Routledge, 1967.

A 16-year-old mod from South London said: "You'd really hate an adult to understand you. That's the only thing you've got over them - the fact that you can mystify and worry them." From: Generation X by Hamblett and Deverson, Tandem, 1964.

III. ROCK MUSIC

Main Entry: 1rock
Pronunciation: 'rдk
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English rokken, from Old English roccian; akin to Old High German rucken to cause to move
Date: 12th century
transitive senses
1 a : to move back and forth in or as if in a cradle b : to wash (placer gravel) in a cradle
2 a : to cause to sway back and forth rocked by the waves> b (1) : to cause to shake violently (2) : to daze with or as if with a vigorous blow rocked the contender> (3) : to astonish or disturb greatly rocked the community>
intransitive senses
1 : to become moved backward and forward under often violent impact; also : to move gently back and forth
2 : to move forward at a steady pace; also : to move forward at a high speed rocked through the countryside>
3 : to sing, dance to, or play rock music
synonym SHAKE
- rock the boat : to do something that disturbs the equilibrium of a situation

Main Entry: 2rock
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Date: 1823
1 : a rocking movement
2 : popular music usually played on electronically amplified instruments and characterized by a persistent heavily accented beat, much repetition of simple phrases, and often country, folk, and blues elements

Main Entry: rock and roll
Function: noun
Date: 1954
: 2ROCK 2

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

ROCK, also called ROCK AND ROLL, ROCK ROLL, or ROCK 'N' ROLL form of popular music that emerged in the 1950s.

It is certainly arguable that by the end of the 20th century rock was the world's dominant form of popular music. Originating in the United States in the 1950s, it spread to English-speaking countries and across Europe in the '60s, and by the '90s its impact was obvious globally (if in many different local guises). Rock's commercial importance was by then reflected in the organization of the multinational recording industry, in the sales racks of international record retailers, and in the playlist policies of music radio and television. If other kinds of music--classical, jazz, easy listening, country, folk, etc.--are marketed as minority interests, rock defines the musical mainstream. And so over the last half of the 20th century it became the most inclusive of musical labels--everything can be "rocked"--and in consequence the hardest to define. To answer the question What is rock? one first has to understand where it came from and what made it possible. And to understand rock's cultural significance one has to understand how it works socially as well as musically.

1. What is rock?

The difficulty of definition

Dictionary definitions of rock are problematic, not least because the term has different resonance in its British and American usages (the latter is broader in compass). There is basic agreement that rock "is a form of music with a strong beat," but it is difficult to be much more explicit. The Collins Cobuild English Dictionary, based on a vast database of British usage, suggests that "rock is a kind of music with simple tunes and a very strong beat that is played and sung, usually loudly, by a small group of people with electric guitars and drums," but there are so many exceptions to this description that it is practically useless.

Legislators seeking to define rock for regulatory purposes have not done much better. The Canadian government defined "rock and rock-oriented music" as "characterized by a strong beat, the use of blues forms and the presence of rock instruments such as electric guitar, electric bass, electric organ or electric piano." This assumes that rock can be marked off from other sorts of music formally, according to its sounds. In practice, though, the distinctions that matter for rock fans and musicians have been ideological. Rock was developed as a term to distinguish certain music-making and listening practices from those associated with pop; what was at issue was less a sound than an attitude. In 1990 British legislators defined pop music as "all kinds of music characterized by a strong rhythmic element and a reliance on electronic amplification for their performance." This led to strong objections from the music industry that such a definition failed to appreciate the clear sociological difference between pop ("instant singles-based music aimed at teenagers") and rock ("album-based music for adults"). In pursuit of definitional clarity, the lawmakers misunderstood what made rock music matter.

Crucial rock musicians

For lexicographers and legislators alike, the purpose of definition is to grasp a meaning, to hold it in place, so that people can use a word correctly--for example, to assign a track to its proper radio outlet (rock, pop, country, jazz). The trouble is that the term rock describes an evolving musical practice informed by a variety of nonmusical arguments (about creativity, sincerity, commerce, and popularity). It makes more sense, then, to approach the definition of rock historically, with examples. The following musicians were crucial to rock's history. What do they have in common?

Elvis Presley, from Memphis, Tennessee, personified a new form of American popular music in the mid-1950s. Rock and roll was a guitar-based sound with a strong (if loose) beat that drew equally on African-American and white traditions from the southern United States, on blues, church music, and country music. Presley's rapid rise to national stardom revealed the new cultural and economic power of both teenagers and teen-aimed media--records, radio, television, and motion pictures.

The Beatles, from Liverpool, England (via Hamburg, Germany), personified a new form of British popular music in the 1960s. Merseybeat was a British take on the black and white musical mix of rock and roll: a basic lineup of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, and drums (with shared vocals) provided local live versions of American hit records of all sorts. The Beatles added to this an artistic self-consciousness, soon writing their own songs and using the recording studio to develop their own--rather than a commercial producer's--musical ideas. The group's unprecedented success in the United States ensured that rock would be an Anglo-American phenomenon.



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