Birth of teenage culture - following world war II, there was a baby boom
which brought about some strong youth cultures in Britain. Young people
were beginning to turn away from their parents and create new cultural
expressions. Among these cultural phenomenon's were the 'Teddy Boys'
also known as 'Ted'. They formed gangs and became high profile rebels in
the media. This young group of delinquent young men dressed in
'Edwardian' clothing who introduced anarchy into British society and
used early rock and roll as their battle call.
'Teddy girls' also known as 'judies' would dress up in their own drape
jackets, rolled-up jeans, flat shoes, tailored jackets with velvet collars
, straw boater hats, brooches, espadrilles and elegant clutch bags. They
would go to the cinema in groups and attend dances and concerts with
the boys, collect rock’n'roll records and magazines. Together, they
essentially cultivated the first market for teenage leisure in
Britain. Despite this the media was less interested in Teddy girls since a
young working class women's role was still at the time focused around
The mods and rockers were two conflicting British youth subcultures of the early to mid 1960s.
Media coverage of mods and rockers fighting in 1964 sparked a moral panic about British youths and
the two groups became labelled as folk devils.
Mod is a youth culture of the early to mid-1960s. Focused on fashion
and music, the subculture has its roots in a small group of Londonbased stylish young men in the late 1950s who were
termed modernists because they listened to modern jazz. Significant
elements of the mod subculture include fashion (often tailor-made
suits); music (including Soul, SKA , and R&B); and motor scooters
(usually Lambretta or Vespa). The original mod scene was associated
with amphetamine -fuelled all-night dancing at clubs
Rockers, leather boys or ton-up boys are members of a biker
subculture that originated in the United Kingdom during the 1950s.
It was mainly centred around British café racer, motorcycles and rock
and roll music. The Teddy boys were considered their "spiritual
ancestors". The rockers or ton-up boys took what was essentially a
sport and turned it into a lifestyle, dropping out of mainstream
society and "rebelling at the points where their will crossed
society's". This damaged the public image of motorcycling in the UK
and led to the politicisation of the motorcycling community
Glam rockers followers of style of rock and pop music that developed in
the UK in the early 1970s, which was performed by singers and musicians
who wore outrageous clothes, makeup and hairstyles, particularly
platform-soled boots and glitter. The flamboyant costumes and visual
styles of glam performers were often camp or androgynous, and have
been connected with new views of gender roles.
The punk subculture which centres around punk rock music, includes a
diverse array of ideologies, fashions and forms of expression, including
visual art, dance, literature and film. The subculture is largely
characterized by anti-establishment views and the promotion of
individual freedom. Notable trends include
rebellion, individualism, anti-capitalism, anti-racism, anti-sexism, antihomophobia, environmentalism, vegetarianism and animal rights.
The goth culture is most closely associated with repressed teenage
rebellion, outsider culture and a dark, alternative to punk. The two genres
came together in the late 1970s/ Thought of as a two-fingered renunciation
to sparkly-eyed, perfect preppy kids, goths favoured eyeliner and a neoVictorian style – all in black. Goth was never about being at the cutting edge
of cool, but will always live on with youth as a way to say: “I don’t conform”.
New Romantics (also called blitz kids and a variety of other names) was a
pop culture movement in the UK that began as a nightclub scene around
1979 and peaked around 1981. Developing in London and Birmingham, at
nightclubs such as Billy's and the Blitz, and fashion boutiques such
as Kahn and Bell, it spread to other major cities in the UK and was based
around flamboyant, eccentric fashion and new wave music.
For Britain, the Swinging 80s were a tumultuous period of social change
when the young gained many levers of power away from the over-40s.
London became a creative powerhouse and its pop and street fashion the
toast of world capitals. All because a vast dance underground had been
gagging for a very sociable revolution.
Soul boys were a working class English youth subculture of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and fans of
American soul and funk music. Although the soul boy scene was huge by the early 1980s, it was centred
around American funk acts and was largely working class; therefore it received far less media coverage
than more middle class youth cultures of the same period, notably the new romantics.
1980s also saw the emergence and occurrence of many football hooligans firms.
Lad culture is a subculture initially associated with Britpop music of the
1990s. "The image of the 'lad' or 'new lad' arose in the early 1990s as a
generally middle-class figure adopting attitudes usually recognised to
the working classes”. These attitudes included male pastimes of
drinking, watching football and sex. This culture is seen as a reaction to a
time where males saw themselves battered by feminism. It is shown as
males taking their masculinity back after subcultures that emerged both
sexes as one with men wearing lots of makeup e.g. New Romantics.
The word "ladette" has been coined to describe young women who try to emulate laddish behaviour;
it is defined as ‘Young women who behave in a boisterously assertive or crude manner and engage in
heavy drinking sessions’.
Raves and acid parties became a way of life for many during
the 1990s. Due to this drugs became a part of mainstream youth
culture. A BBC article from 1999 stated that ‘It was found that
70% of young people said they had used drugs in the last year
and 93% of those who had used drugs said they were prepared
to mix substances’.
During the 2000s, hoodies had gained a negative image, being
associated with trouble making teens and anti-social behaviour. It
became one of the later items associated with "chavs”, or Neds. Due to
increase in gang violence crimes, hoodies became nationally feared
and there were many protests in favour to have hoodies banned.
Chav refers to a anti-social subculture. Chav as an informal British
derogatory meaning a young lower-class person who displays brash
and loutish behaviour and wears real or imitation designer clothes.
A BBC TV documentary suggested that "chav" culture is an evolution of previous working-class youth
subcultures associated with particular commercial clothing styles, such as mods, skinheads,
Another issue is that new forms of media, such as the internet, create new forms of misbehaviour
that have high public visibility. Incidents of “happy slapping” caught on mobile phone can be
distributed around the world within minutes. Such cases bring crime “into the living room of people
who may not previously have been concerned by it. This does not, however, mean that youth
behaviour is worse than it used to be.
In 2008 an American magazine stated that ‘British youngsters drink far more than their European
counterparts, are more frequently involved in violence and are more likely to try drugs, adding that
English girls are the most sexually active in Europe.’