Topic 12: Spectacular youth cultures and neo-tribes

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  • Created by: zoolouise
  • Created on: 01-05-16 13:53

Types of youth groups

Studies have suggested there's many different youth groups and many young people belong to one or more of these casual groups. Nevertheless, they have their own slightly distinctive styles and set of values. Some may be quite formalised such as religious groups, or fan-based groups, whereas others will be freeform in the sense that people will choose lifestyle or images and mix.

Types of youth groups:

  • Music-based such as drum and bass or heavy metal
  • Religious based, fundamental Christians and Muslims
  • Gender groups, LGBT
  • Sports groups: football supporters or gym based
  • Online games players
  • Gangs, often criminal ones
  • Fan groups such as Twihards or Directioners
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Spectacular youth cultures

In the 1960s and 70s there were dramatic youth groups such as the hippies and punks, they became global phenomena. They adopted fashions and behaviours that were extremely distinctive, therefore they wre described as spectacular youth cultures.

The appearence of hippies was very shocking and aggressive with their long hair at a time when many young American men were fighting in Vietnam. Long hair was a clear anti-war statement in contrast to the shaved hair of the military. Sociologists argue that social situations which created a dramatic style have now ended. However, postmodernists now suggest that the style and beliefs of hippies amounted to very little more than a few people taking to the life style. The attention they recieved was excessive.

Hodkinson (2002) states that for a substantial number of young people, membership of a youth culture is very significant, with people adopting a particular subcultural lifestyle, norms and values over long periods of times. Thornton (1995) and MacDonald in 2001 have come to similar conclusions.

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Neo-tribes

By the 1990s Postmodernists suggested that youth cultures had become so commercialised that very few young people would commit to one. There were fewer boundaries between youth groups, modern young people would simply choose a style that would suit them for a particular purpose. Today, young people may chose many items that once belonged to a specific subculture just as a fashion item. Muggleton suggests that the speed with which fashion and styles change means that collective action by young people isn't possible.

By the 1990s sociologists were investigating trends and styles. Alix Sharket (1993) attended a summer rave in a field and identified five 'tribes' each of which had an identifiable style and a taste in music. Young people no longer subscribe to one set of behaviours forming a single youth culture, but that it is a collection of youth subcultures which are known as neo-tribes. These descriptions though subjective, suggest not a single youth culture but a collection of different co-existing youth subcultures, or neo-tribes.

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Postmodernism and neo-tribes

Bennett and Hetherington reject the view that class/social background shapes the behaviour of young people. Hetherington (1998) studied New Age travellers and found they were from a range of backgrounds, it was their beliefs and behaviour that unified them. They made an active choice to assume the lifestyle. The term neo-tribe was probably coined by Maffesoli but used by Bennett to describe modern youth cultures. They have a loose structure based on lifestyle and consumer choices. They share a common world view rather than a class position. Benett is therefore being critical of the CCCS and also pointing out a significant shift in behaviour among young people saying youth culture is now less meaningful and more consumer lead.

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