Why is Style so Important for Subcultural Identities

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What do we mean by the term subculture? Paul Hodkinson gives us a really broad definition in his book: ‘Goth : Identity, Style and Subculture’ as he says: “Acquisition of status within the subculture entailed being labelled and, hence, excluded from the rest of society, something the group would respond to through its own hostility to outsiders, to the extent that non-conformity with dominant norms often became virtuous. As the subculture became more substantive, distinctive and independent, members would become increasingly dependent on each other for social contact and validation of their beliefs and way of life.” (Hodkinson, Paul. Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2002. ProQuest Ebook Central). For decades there have been a lot of theories and a lot of opinions on what is right and what is wrong. As he states in his book there are several schools that stand out the most in terms of subculture. One of them, in fact, is the Birmingham School.

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Mostly know from a neo-Marxist perspective, it’s mostly looked at from the position of the working-class young generation, in relation to the social culture of the 1960s and 1970s in Britain. It is built on the resistance of young people having the traditional values and believes of their parents and creating the modern hegemonic culture of consumption that is dominated by the media and trends. Knowingly forming these subcultures that are characterized by parlance and ritual, although the youth maintained their aspects of the working-class culture, that didn’t stop them from embracing the decadent consumption and insistence on taste and style reflecting their position within capitalist society. Although their consumption, unlike the general public’s, by the youth’s subcultural context it’s deemed for them to be characterized by everyday objects and new subversive meanings. Looking at the approach of The Birmingham School, there is a lot of neglect of countenances such as diversity, external overlay, individuality between subcultures and identified instability of the groups.

As well looking at the school’s neo-Marxist view as an instinctive response to the structural contradictions, more importantly, underestimating the positivity of media and business in the development of such groupings. As it’s well known one of the most significant things that the subculture has is their authentic style and most clothing and music. The birth of goth was around the first half of the 1980s, specifically in Britain there were a lot of sounds and images based on the post-punk climate that it became a definite movement. As it’s known there are a lot of various factors that were involved insignificance of goth but music has always been the base of the subculture. One of the significant bands at the time has been Siouxsie and the Banshees as it took a bit of the theme of punk the genre provided general mood and sounds that would be drawn of for the following decades. The vocalist of the band had a really big part of the initial style of the goth’s in that time period. The outrageous at the time Nazi imagery that was advertised seemed politically provocative, with the ‘dark’ distinguishing image that she was pursuing with her black backcombed hair and really heavy dark eye make-up, the lips as well.

That particular look would be imitated by females and male goths for the following two decades. However, the most important point of goth, was probably the band Bauhaus with their single ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead ’ particularly the performance of the song, and a lot of their set, had most of the distinctive elements that until this day they exist in the still the goth scene, from the funereal musical tone to the lyrical references for death, from the deep vocals to a twisted form of androgyny in the band’s appearances. Associating themselves with not only the band but other particular listeners of the same type of music. The start of a subculture and resistance against the capitalistic society and its rules. Knowing the importance of clothing and asserorizing in the goth world: ‘The selection, purchase and consumption of particular kinds of subcultural goods, most notably recorded music, clothing and accessories, was a key element in participants’ experience of the goth scene.

To a significant extent, it was through ownership and use of consumer goods that goths claimed their subcultural capital, differentiating themselves subtly from one another and more overtly from groupings and individuals outside the subculture. Collections of commodities provided the material manifestation of the subculture ’ s distinctive range of tastes. The process through which individuals developed their subcultural ‘ look ’ and enhanced their knowledge and appreciation of music revolved around selecting, purchasing, combining and using particular kinds of object, as did the consistency and distinctiveness of the goth style as a whole. Furthermore, as well as being crucial as a means to an end, the act of shopping was often an important subcultural activity in itself (see McRobbie 1989: 24; Shields 1992a: 5).’(Hodkinson, Paul. Goth : Identity, Style and Subculture, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2002. ProQuest Ebook Central).

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Why is Style so Important For Subcultural Identities. (2019, Apr 10). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from

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