Youth&subcultures
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  • 1. So…WHAT IS A YOUTH SUB-CULTURE?
  • 2. ONE DEFINITION (BUT BY NO MEANS THE ONLY ONE)
    • A group of individuals who are united through a common value system and tastes (clothes, music, politics etc.)
    • A group who are also positioned outside of the mainstream, and who unify as a response to the mainstream
  • 3. Task: what are the values of a subculture?
    • Choose a subculture you are familiar with
    • Try to identify its values and beliefs…you may want to think about how they respond to these topics:
    • ‘fitting in with group/being individual’
    • brand names and fashion
    • other subcultures/ genres/ styles
    • previous versions of their style/genre
  • 4. What are the values of a subculture?
    • Links to values… how the subculture view:
    • Conformity and rebellion
    • Attitude to capitalism and consumerism
    • ‘ Tribal’ rivalry
    • Traditional or ‘neophile’
  • 5. Targetting Values
    • Task: imagine you are targetting your chosen subculture with a new product.
    • What would you include in a 15 second TV advert (think about plot, main characters, mis-en-scene, music)
    • Which TV shows would you schedule it to run with?
    • Choose from:
    • Running shoes
    • A diving watch
    • A washing powder
  • 6. SUBCULTURE THEORY THE BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL (Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies) –CCCS for short!
  • 7. WHAT ARE THE ORIGINS OF THIS SUBCULTURE MEMBER’S STYLE?
  • 8. And this one….
  • 9. The Postmodern View - Plenitude
    • Grant McCracken took a different attitude...
    • The postmodern world is full of diversity, dynamism and creativity
    • CCCS’s view ignores this – assumes basically that all subcultures have similar origins (reaction to mainstream)
    • McCracken says that if we look at the array of values, and ideologies then we can’t make such generalisations.
    • By only looking at superficial style, Hebdige came to the conclusion subcultures’ difference was only superficial. Look deeper and there is enough richness to warrant renaming ‘subcultures’ as ‘little cultures’.
  • 10. Plenitude cont’d..
    • True, many groups are involved in protest and resistance against the mainstream… but the form of this is diverse and internally coherent .
    • CCCS ‘generalises when it should be particularising’
    • Also doesn’t take account of the fact teens will often move between subcultures, and older youths mix and match styles/values from a mix of subcultures
    • Or that adults can appear to conform for most of the working week, but re-enter the subculture at specific time (weekend, festivals etc.)
  • 11. Postmodernity and Subculture
    • Ultimately, the CCCS approach is out of date because in the 21 st century the ‘dominant meaning systems’ (that define the mainstream) are crumbling.
    • “ There is no mainstream. There are many streams.” Mainstream is in perpetual flux, rapaciously absorbing alternative culture at such a fast rate that the notion of a mainstream becomes obsolete.
    • So if there is no mainstream then there is nothing for the teens to react against – instead they are driven by other motives; and these must be understood on their own terms, individual terms
  • 12. Example: Japanese ‘Para-para’
    • In the Harajuku district of Tokyo we find the ‘kosupure’ (‘costume play’) – youths with a hugely diverse range of visible ‘styles’.
    • The main musical genre is ‘para-para’
  • 13.
    • ‘ Para-para’ involves dressing in the most absurd, shocking outfit you can (or to make yourself look as perversely conformist!) and wearing extremely high heels!
    • The music is sped up euro-pop, released on limited edition vinyl…
  • 14. … .with the top-secret dance moves to this particular song printed on the sleeve:
    • Whoever has the newest, most elaborate moves is the envy of the rest of the dancefloor – but due to ridiculously high-heels, these are confined to mainly arm and hand movements.
  • 15. How would you classify ‘kosupure’ and ‘para-para’?
    • What are these teens reacting against? Conservative Japanese mainstream? But what about the ‘lolita’ look? Or the fact there is hardly any drug use or violence – most just want to look different and dance?
    • Are they avant-fashion pioneers, where individuality is everything? Then why the rigid adherence to strict dance moves, and the heirarchy based on this?
    • CCCS ideas may work when applied to 60s Glasgow barrow-boys, but not to 21 st century Tokyo!
  • 16. POP MUSIC AND YOUTH CULTURE
  • 17. How does the pop music industry target youth cultures?
      • There are two rival views of the relationship between pop music and youth…
    • Pop stars are constructed to appeal to specific market with specific values
    • The audience are so unpredictable in their likes and dislikes that record companies can never truly know how to target them
    • …and both are true!
  • 18. Dyer’s ‘star theory’
    • Stars represent shared cultural values and attitudes, and will promote a certain ideology.
    • Fans who agree with that set of values will support the star
    • Fans will imitate stars in an aspirational effort to get ‘closer’ to the glamorous, fantasy lifestyle they appear to have – this may take the form of ‘dressing up’, imitating performances, adopting behaviour etc.
    • Though Dyer was applying this theory to movie stars, it can also be applied to pop stars, who often have a far faster rise to stardom by promoting values.
  • 19. What values does Kylie promote here? What kind of audience would be attracted to her?
  • 20. And here?
  • 21. And here?
  • 22. And here? How has Kylie’s image changed over time? Why do you think she (or her manager) has done this?
  • 23. Student Research
  • 24. Example of student hypothesis:
    • “ The pop music industry does not create long-lasting subcultures – it struggles to keep up with youth values and groups”
    • Focus on three subcultures:
      • Sub-culture that has been created by pop music – ‘rude boyz’/white gangsta rap fans
      • Sub-culture that has other, non-pop origins – Essex boys/casuals (more class-based)
      • Sub-culture that has resisted pop music industry – ‘ravers’ (scorning commercial dance music, DJs create music purely for the events, not even issued unless it becomes an anthem. No singer/performer to focus on)
  • 25. Research process
    • Step One: first questionnaire (sample doesn’t need to be large)
    • Step Two: results – what have you proved so far?
    • Step Three: second questionnaire – develop results, wider age/taste range in subjects
    • Step Four: compare results with other researchers (either ‘official’ research or other students’)
    • Extrapolate: using Topic Questions, comment generally on three areas concerning the relationship between youth culture and pop music
  • 26. Practical Projects
    • Most students choose a youth group as their target audience, so – regardless of the ‘product’ – they can use their knowledge of youth cultures/values to:
    • match content to values for a more accurate and realistic product
    • discuss how they used critical theory in their evaluation
  • 27. Example: Bhangra Crossover
    • Brief: promo video for a new single, aimed at both a mainstream pop/ urban audience, and an Anglo-Asian audience.
  • 28. Values/beliefs
    • Mainstream/ Urban audience:
      • White, black and Asian inclusive – ‘ghetto’ style is class based
      • Material wealth – jewellery , cars etc as sign of status
      • ‘ street’ origins seen as being ‘real’ and genuine, not a ‘faker’
    • Asian, traditional bhangra audience:
      • Asian culture highly valued – keeping in touch with ‘roots’ very important
      • Celebration of culture more important than ‘bling’