A whole new approach to the field of subculture theory is emerging. It is an approach that is critical of the subculture theory approach popular since the seventies.
3. The Increase of Youth Subcultures
A number of factors account for the increase in the number of subculture groups in society:
A. The Size of the Society
Charles Kraft in Anthropology for Christian Witness says: "larger societies will also develop more subgroupings. These subgroupings are usually referred to as subcultures."
B. The Rate of Change in the Society
In societies with slow pace of social change the transition to adulthood goes smoothly and youth are similar to their parents. There is a unity and a solidarity between the coming generation and the generation of parents. In societies undergoing rapid social change a smooth transition to adulthood is no longer possible and there is a strong dissimilarity with parent generations. Here an individual cannot reply on their parents identity patterns as they no longer fit into the social context. Because youth realise that they cannot learn from past experiences, they search for new identities that are relevant. In fact, the greater the change in a society the more intense and stronger the subcultures as people identify more with their subculture in order to find identity and security.
C. The Globalisation of the Society
The rate at which cultural objects and ideas are transmitted in large parts of the world today is a significant factor in the number of youth subculture groups that are identified. Where a society is connected to the global village through communication technology, they experience simultaneous pressures to unity and fragmentation.
D. The Position of Youth in the Society
People who are marginalised or deprived make their sense of loss known as they resist to the dominant culture. Where youth are connected to the center of the dominant culture they do not need to rebel or form counter-cultural groups.
E. The Generational Size in the Society
The size of a generation impacts on youth subcultures because the overall age structure within a society influences the social, economical and political make up of age groups. When the number of youth entering the market place drops, then youth as a portion of the total labour force also falls. This decline in youth as a market force, both as consumers and producers will significantly alter the social and political visibility of youth.
4. The Features of Youth Subcultures
Looking at various writings on youth culture the following features are noted (some of which may well overlap): style; language, music, class, rebellion, gender, art, rebellion, relationship to the dominant culture, degree of openness to outsiders, urban/rural living, etc. The following insights were gained from class interaction on youth subculture groups:
A. Class and Youth Subcultures
It was found that within different socio-economic groups subculture groups take on different characteristics and are based on different factors. Within the working class communities youth tend to have more interaction with parents and therefore don't seem to rebel as much against their parents as youth in middle to upper classes. Youth subcultures in working class communities will show a greater among of gang activity, with subculture groups being defined around gangs in some areas. In middle class areas youth seem to form their subcultures around interests, such as sports.
B. Music and Youth Subcultures
Most subculture groups could be identified with a specific music genre and in some instances music was the defining characteristic around which the group was formed (such as with the following subcultures: Ravers, Metalheads, Homeboys, Ethno-hippies, Goths, Technos, Rastas and Punks). In other communities music is a key feature, but another factor would be the key characteristic, such as with Bladers, Bikers, Skaters, Surfers, etc.).
C. Family and Youth Subcultures
In working class families, we noted that families tend to have closer interaction and youth do not seem so intent on being different to their parents, whereas in other communities youth may deliberately choose a certain subculture group to reinforce their independence and even opposition to their parents. In upper-class communities (or among youth from upper-class homes) youth are given a lot more disposable income with which to engage in sports, computers, entertainment, etc. So they are able to engage in a greater diversity of pursuits - so there are possibly more subculture groups in middle to upper-class communities.
D. Fashion and Youth Subcultures
It was noted that fashion plays a role in all subculture groups and that some are more strongly defined by their fashion, while others take the clothing that relates to the music or sport to define the subculture group. Working class youth tend to place greater emphasis on fashion as it is the one way in which they can show off what they own, whereas middle class youth have other things to show off, such as homes, smart cars, fancy sound systems, etc.
5. The Types of Youth Subcultures
Snejina Michailova, in Exploring Subcultural Specificity in Socialist and Postsocialist Organisations, presents the following understanding of the types of subcultures based on their internal logic of development: (a) Stable Subcultures - these are functional and hierarchical and age-based. (b) Developing Subcultures - here there are two types, those that are (i) climbing - their role is becoming more important, and those that are (ii) climbing-down - their significance is being reduced. (c) Counter Cultures - those that confront and contradict the official culture, also called oppositional subcultures.
6. The Variety of Youth Subcultures
Youth workers should, through research and observation, seek to identify the various subculture groups within the community in which the youth group operates, to ensure that the group is able to help to meet the needs of the different groups. In Britain in the 1980s the following groups of youth were identified: Casuals, Rastas, Sloans, Goths, Punks and Straights. In South Africa in the 1990s the following youth subculture groups were identified: Socialite, Striver, Traditionalist, Independent, Uninvolved, Careful and Acceptor. In 1995 a market research project discovered that within the Black youth culture there are three main subcultures: the Rappers, Pantsulas and the Italians. While within the White youth subculture only thirty percent of youth identify with a subculture and the subcultures are far more