Subculture Examples From the Past Century

Culture has the ability to define a group of people. That includes things like language, cuisine, ideologies, religious beliefs, and more. Culture tends to point to large groups of people within a certain geographical area.

A subculture is a group within a culture that differs from the general consensus. They have a unique set of beliefs and values that don’t necessarily align with the wider culture. Explore some subculture examples, from beatniks to bodybuilders, and get a clear idea of what small groups of nonconformists look like.

Goth girl Goth girl

Historic Subcultures

Certain subcultures have survived for decades. They make for an interesting study in sociology. Here are a few groups of people who’ve stood the test of time:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous - a fellowship for recovering alcoholics. Members gather to discuss common struggles related to addiction. Together, they seek a Higher Power who can lead them down a pathway to recovery.
  • Beatnik - a term coined by Jack Kerouac that refers to a movement in the 1950s and 60s that clung to pseudo-intellectualism, drug use, and spiritual freedom
  • Bikers - people interested in motorcycles who often form groups that travel together
  • Fandom - fans of movies, a celebrity, or any shared interest
  • Freak scene - a subculture that started in the late 1960s with some hippie and punk elements
  • LGBT - an increasingly less-marginalized community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people
  • Military Brats - children of parents in the armed forces who move around the world a lot
  • Pachuco/Pachuca - Hispanic and Latino men and women known for flamboyant dress and behavior
  • Rockabilly - rock-n-roll music incorporating country music and rhythm and blues
  • Skinhead - early skinheads were not politically involved. However, this subculture has evolved to include those who are racially motivated, as in white power.
  • Survivalists - people who actively prepare for major, large-scale disasters
  • Zazou - a French subculture during World War II characterized by flashy clothing, and bebop and swing dance

Modern Subcultures

You don’t have to go far today to enjoy the company of a nonconformist. How many people did you see sporting rainbow-colored hair in the 1950s? Not many. Nowadays, people are expressing themselves in any number of ways. See if any of these modern subcultures catch your eye:

  • Afrofuturism - a future seen through an African-American lens, encompassing the arts, science, and technology
  • Bodybuilding - using certain exercises to train the body into a highly sculpted, muscular form
  • Cosplay - a group involved in full immersion into a fictional character
  • Cybergoth - a mix of goth and rave culture with energetic music and bright, futuristic clothing
  • Demoscene - a group of people who produce demos for play on a computer
  • Emo - short for “emotional,” a movement directed at fans of emotional, expressive hardcore punk rock
  • Gaming - a group of people who enjoy playing video games, either individually, with friends, or through a virtual platform
  • Goth - people who find beauty in things others might find dark, including clothing and attire, decor, and more
  • Grunge - started in Seattle, fans of alternative rock that gained prominence in the 1990s
  • Hip hop - started in South Bronx in the 70s, a group of people who enjoy break dancing, graffiti, DJs combining songs and rap, and other artistic expressions
  • Hipsters - a merging of many identities, including retro styles, skinny jeans, artistic movements, urban living, and more
  • Hypebeast - a genre of fashion-lovers with a particular affinity for street fashion and collector items
  • Internet Subculture - a lifestyle that revolves around online connectivity, including gaming, memes, cosplay, dating, chat groups, social media, and more.
  • Metalcore - a genre of music that fuses extreme metal and hardcore punk
  • New Age - a spiritual and metaphysical movement including holistic health and parapsychology
  • Otaku - people obsessed with anime and manga
  • Rave Scene - characterized by wild parties with loud music and possibly light or laser shows
  • Rivethead - a group started in the 1980s with people who favor industrial dance music
  • Skater - a movement of teens and adults who enjoy skateboarding
  • Straight Edge - people who are drawn to the punk rock scene, but don’t engage in drugs and heavy drinking
  • Trekkie - fans of the Star Trek franchise who enjoy the movies, attend festivals, and share their enthusiasm for a sci-fi existence

Subculture Submersion

Subcultures are a great way to unite people in their common interests. People join together to celebrate their passions and learn more about their preferred way of living. Are you a member of any of the above subcultures? What’s your preferred outlet for self-expression? Is it art? Or how about creative writing?

If you’re looking to bring art to life in the form of a short story, check out Get Creative: How to Write a Short Story. You can use the artistic blueprint found in that article to bring any subcultural to life in a way that encourages others to join the movement. Now that you understand subculture, discover some examples of counterculture.