Post-Marxist Subcultural Theories

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  • Post-Marxists Subcultural Theories
    • Break and Hebdidge (1979) argue that different generations of WC youth develop their subculture as means of coping with their problems and the styles they develop reflect their particular cultural and economic circumstances
    • Phil Cohen (1972): Subcultural Conflict & WC Community
      • Cohen studied youth culture in East London in the 1970s and claimed youth culture needed to be analysed in both immediate and wider context:
        • Immediate context:
          • Cohen claimed that the fabric of East End London society had changed dramatically during the 1960s
            • Firstly the docks reduced in size a lot which got rid of many jobs
              • Secondly the area underwent a huge re-development with many terraced houses being demolished for high rise flats
                • This led to a decline in the WC extended family
                  • Property speculators then moved into the area and created businesses that priced original WC residents out of the are and replaced them with 'upwardly mobile' professionals
        • Wider context:
          • Much of society became more affluent and materialistic although alongside this, poverty and deprivation was still rife within inner city areas
            • According to Cohen, youth subcultures developed to cope with the loss of community and to reflect the divisions in society
              • The WC youths of Cohen's study split into different youth subcultures, one looking back to WC values and one embracing the new values of a more affluent society
    • Hall and Jefferson (1976): Resistance Through Rituals
      • Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson attempted to examine hidden ideological meanings behind the styles and symbols adopted by youth subcultures
        • They noted that youth subcultures choose styles that reflect negative attitudes towards the prevailing culture and their own oppositional values
          • Styles are designed to shock, creating symbolic in order to compensate for the wearers lack of power in a capitalist society
            • The focus is on deviance from the norm rather than crime, although some youth cultures frequently engaged in delinquent behaviour too
          • Hebdidge (1979) Supported this idea as he described subcultural fashion as 'intentional comunication'
            • For example punks chose 'bricolage' (creative and unconventional selection of objects) to signify a voluntary outcast status to express disdain for conventions and emphasise poverty in youth
      • Brake (1985) whilst using the term 'magical' to describe WC subcultures he also argued youths joining subcultures only solves their problems temporarily
      • Hall and Jefferson (1976) Resistance Through Rituals Evaluation
        • Strengths
          • Provides an explanation for why WC youth join subcultures
        • Weaknesses
          • Feminists argue that females are ignored by the Marxist subcultural approach
          • This approach implies that sociologists know best, even when youths provide their own explanations for their actions


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