Bodies, identities, subculteres and participation paul sweetman


Published on

Yeni Zamanlarda Genç Yurttaşların Katılımı Konferansı
9-10-11 Mayıs 2014

Published in: Technology, Health & Medicine
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Looked at body modification from a sociological perspective
    Argued that it was increasingly individualised and increasingly dedicated towards the construction of individual identities rather than a reflection of wider variables such as class
  • - As one interviewee put it …
  • - At the same time, however, different from other body projects in terms of the processes involved and the permanence or semi-permanence of the modifications acquired ….
  • - And when asked if there was a connection between people with tattoos …
  • More recently, work on subcultures and subcultural theory
    Including in relation to attempts to reformulate the concept in response both to changes in the nature of subcultures and perceived difficulties with previous approaches, most notably the class-based model adopted by the CCCS
  • - Has included discussions of contemporary ‘tribes’ based in part on the work of Michel Maffesoli, and the idea that modern identities have increasingly been rejected in favour of the more fluid and superficial neo-tribal persona, and that modern forms of association have increasingly given way to less formal, less instrumental forms of sociality, where what matters is not some sort of end-goal, but simply being together in the here and now
  • - And this has fed through into more recent work on the concept of subculture itself, where I’ve argued for a reformulation of the concept around process, embodiment, capital and affect
  • - Where the emphasis, importantly, is on non-codified practices and extra-curricular virtuosities, which – by definition – can’t easily be harnessed to more formal, institutional ends
  • Of course people have always tried to commoditise subcultures, and the relationship between subcultures and commerce has always been more complex than previous theoretical approaches tended to allow
    But it is in the nature of subcultures that they stabbed outside some sort of understanding of the ‘mainstream’ however this is conceptualised or defined
  • Would like to finish by briefly discussing Long Live Southbank, an ongoing campaign by skateboarders and their supporters to resist the commercial redevelopment of the Undercroft area bellow the Royal Festival Hall as part of the South Bank Center’s wider business plan
    I think this illustrates both, a) the possibilities for subcultural involvement to lead to more specific forms of participation and engagement, albeit in defense of a particular space, but also, b) the difficulties of harnessing such energies more widely, and the way in which attempts to impose solutions in these sorts of contexts will tend to fail
  • SBC has offered to provide new, purpose built skatepark a few hundred yards along the river from the Undercroft space
    But, as the slogan pus it, ‘You can’t move history’ …
  • - the Undercroft can’t be replaced …
  • - And …
  • (but, if wish to encourage participation there are limits to incorporation)
  • Bodies, identities, subculteres and participation paul sweetman

    1. 1. Bodies, Identities, Subcultures and Participation Dr Paul Sweetman Senior Lecturer in Culture, Media & Creative Industries, King’s College London CONFERENCE ON PARTICIPATION OF YOUNG CITIZENS IN THE NEW ERA / YENİ ZAMANLARDA GENÇ YURTTAŞLARIN KATILIMI KONFERANSI Istanbul Bilgi University NGO Training and Research Center / İstanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi STK Eğitim ve Araştırma Birimi 9-11 May 2014
    2. 2. “It makes you feel individual ... You know, like, everyone's born with roughly the same bodies, but you've created yours in your own image, [in line with] what your imagination wants your body to look like. It's like someone's given you something, and then you've made it your own, so you're not like everyone else any more.”
    3. 3. But: “You can’t, well, you can buy it, but you can’t like, go to the shop and try it on and say, ‘I’ll have one of them,’ and just walk out with it. You’ve gotta sit there for hours and put up with the pain. So even if you’re really rich, if you can’t stand the pain, you can’t get tattooed.” “People can buy an expensive outfit or, you know, a leather jacket, but, [well] you can buy a tattoo, but you’ve still gotta put up with the pain and the process … There’s a lot more that goes into it.”
    4. 4. “because it's permanent and it's painful and it's all these things, and you feel special somehow, you know, it's quite strong, it's maybe more close, and more passionate than, than golf say.”
    5. 5. “Subcultural practice is not just about re-arranging commodities, it is also about the exuberant vitality of the here and now, and … the development of new forms of physical capital, bodies and subjectivities. It doesn't necessarily achieve anything beyond a fleeting enlivening of the present, and if it does, this is as much about the re- working of the body through ludic forms of self-discipline as it is about creative resolutions of a symbolic kind … The gratuitous expenditure of energy and effort to no formal end, other than the development and display of subcultural competencies and virtuosities, and the collective reproduction of the here and now.” (Sweetman 2013: 5.2)
    6. 6. “it may be that one way to avoid CCCS-style over- theoreticism without reducing subcultures to the status of youth culture in general or any-other-lifestyle would be to reformulate the concept in precisely these terms; as relatively committed lifestyle groupings characterised by the gratuitous expenditure of energy on non-instrumental pleasures and 'extra-curricular’ virtuosities, leading not only to the temporary appropriation of time and space, but the development of alternative knowledges, capitals, bodies and subjectivities which may themselves stand apart from, or challenge, institutionalised or hegemonic forms.” (Sweetman 2013: 5.3)
    7. 7. “The whole point of the skate space is that it is a naturally-evolved environment, a found space used in response to accidents of architecture. The community at the Undercroft has evolved around this type of use over four decades and the natural progression of the environment cannot be replicated. A purpose built skate area, regardless of a skater led design, is a fake and homogenised version of an urban environment and as such completely removes the entire ethos and artistic value of the urban arts practised in the Undercroft.” (
    8. 8. “No matter how the SBC package the new space, what is created there will be artificial and contrived. In its very essence; a skate park that is against the ethos of its perceived users. There are plenty of examples of where such contrived spaces have failed.” (