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Situating Subculture: Reappraising the Sociological Significance of a 'De-sociologized' Term

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Abstract:

This paper argues for the reconceptualisation of the term ‘subculture’, as used in sociological work on youth, music, style and identity, as a reflexively articulated lifestyle strategy (Chaney, 1996). Beginning with a brief overview of the subcultural theory of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) and post-CCCS work, during which it is noted how criticisms of the CCCS focused on subcultural theory rather than the term ‘subculture’ itself, it is subsequently illustrated how subculture has remained a standard, and increasingly arbitrary, concept in the sociology of youth. The problems inherent in defining subculture in abstract theoretical terms, it is argued, are increased through the media’s appropriation and introduction of subculture into the public sphere which has resulted in subculture becoming a framing device for a range of youth discourses embedded in everyday life. The second part of the paper contends that if subculture is to retain relevance as a sociological concept it must begin to engage with the way in which subcultural meanings are constructed and contested by young people themselves in the context of their everyday lives.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

subcultur (161), cultur (59), youth (56), term (34), cccs (30), everyday (28), sociolog (28), work (27), concept (23), london (22), life (22), use (21), lifestyl (20), media (20), mean (19), class (18), studi (18), young (17), ident (16), peopl (15), style (14),

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subculture, lifestyle, media, everyday life
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MLA Citation:

Bennett, Andy. "Situating Subculture: Reappraising the Sociological Significance of a 'De-sociologized' Term" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Hilton San Francisco & Renaissance Parc 55 Hotel, San Francisco, CA,, Aug 14, 2004 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p109318_index.html>

APA Citation:

Bennett, A. , 2004-08-14 "Situating Subculture: Reappraising the Sociological Significance of a 'De-sociologized' Term" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Hilton San Francisco & Renaissance Parc 55 Hotel, San Francisco, CA, Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p109318_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper argues for the reconceptualisation of the term ‘subculture’, as used in sociological work on youth, music, style and identity, as a reflexively articulated lifestyle strategy (Chaney, 1996). Beginning with a brief overview of the subcultural theory of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) and post-CCCS work, during which it is noted how criticisms of the CCCS focused on subcultural theory rather than the term ‘subculture’ itself, it is subsequently illustrated how subculture has remained a standard, and increasingly arbitrary, concept in the sociology of youth. The problems inherent in defining subculture in abstract theoretical terms, it is argued, are increased through the media’s appropriation and introduction of subculture into the public sphere which has resulted in subculture becoming a framing device for a range of youth discourses embedded in everyday life. The second part of the paper contends that if subculture is to retain relevance as a sociological concept it must begin to engage with the way in which subcultural meanings are constructed and contested by young people themselves in the context of their everyday lives.

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Document Type: .PDF
Page count: 20
Word count: 5194
Text sample:
1 Situating subculture: Reappraising the sociological value of a ‘de- sociologised’ term For over twenty-five years the concept of subculture has dominated sociologists’ and cultural theorists’ accounts of music and style-centred youth groupings. Indeed as a concept subculture has proved far more resilient than the theoretical model of youth style for which it originally served as a framing device. While the original subcultural theory of the Birmingham CCCS has been variously criticised and rejected ‘the term subculture survives’ (Bennett
The Postmodern Meaning of Style. Oxford: Berg. Reimer Bo (1995) ‘Youth and Modern Lifestyles’ in J. Fornäs and G. Bolin (eds.) Youth Culture in Late Modernity. London: Sage: 120-144. Thornton Sarah (1995) Club Cultures: Music Media and Subcultural Capital. Cambridge: Polity Press. Tulloch John and Jenkins Henry (1995) Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Doctor Who and Star Trek. Routledge: London. Waters Chris (1981) ‘Badges of Half-Formed Inarticulate Radicalism: A Critique of Recent Trends in the Study of Working Class Youth


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