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.
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
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
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.