The term "youth culture" refers to the ways that teenagers conduct their lives. Youth culture can pertain to interests, styles, behaviors, music, beliefs, vocabulary, clothes, sports and dating. The concept behind youth culture is that adolescents are a subculture with norms, mores, behaviors and values that differ from the main culture of older generations within society.
Commonly-used Youth Culture Examples
- In the 1960's the wearing of clothes that indicated freedom
- Following of music groups that perform music that speaks to the issues teenagers perceive themselves enduring at the time such as Nirvana in the 1990's and The Beatles in the 1960's
- Hairstyles that exhibit a lack of conformity such as brightly colored hair, spiked hair, shaved heads
- Behavior that is contrary to what is perceived to be accepted and expected by parents such as drinking, smoking, using drugs
- Language usage that is bold in order to set themselves apart such as either excessive cursing or a usage of esoteric “cool” buzz words
- Behaviors such as cutting school or low grade criminal activity in order to assert independence and non-conformity
- Refusal to go to certain establishments to appear more acceptable to peers
- A change in academic performance in order to conform to the expectations of their peer groups
- A change in types of media that the adolescent prefers, i.e. comic books over novels or magazines over non-fiction, to relate to the likes of his peers
- A desire for same brand name clothes, shoes and other material goods such as portable music players, backpacks and phones
- A change in the quality of products he prefers, i.e. more expensive goods that are similar to his friends' goods, or less expensive goods that are more in line with his peer's belongings
- Attitude changes about school, religion or family
- A change in the way that they treat others, either with greater kindness or perhaps more aloofness
Each different generation will have their own youth culture that is reflective of their lives and times.
Understanding Youth Culture
Psychologists such as Erik Erikson theorize that the primary goal in the developmental stage of adolescence is to answer the question: “Who am I?” This being the case, it is natural to assume that in determining one's identity, one would seek others within the same age group to grow and learn together and understand the social norms and values of society.
Theorists such as Fasick agree that adolescents are in a confused state and that identity development happens during this time as they exert independence from parents and have a greater reliance on their peer groups.
Development of Youth Culture
Youth culture truly developed in the 20th century when it became more common for adolescents to gather together. Historically, prior to this time many adolescents spent a majority of time with adults or child siblings. Compulsory schooling and other societal changes made the joint socialization of adolescents more prevalent.