Subculture Essay

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Although closely linked, fashion and style can be defined in different ways.

A dictionary definition of fashion is “a popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration or behaviour” (Oxford Dictionary, online), whereas style is defined as “a manner or way” (Oxford Dictionary, online).

Indeed, possibly the most important aspect of a subcultural group is its use of symbolic style (Brake 2013, p.12), with the dominant values of style being image, demeanour and ‘argot’, or a special vocabulary and how it is delivered (Brake 2013, p.13).

The nature of subcultural groups’ clothes is very complex: they are the “system of signals by which [they] broadcast [their] intentions, projection of [their] fantasy selves, weapons, challenges, insults” (Carter 1967, p.10).

As cultural social groups within the arena of youth developed, identified by their distinct patterns of life, they formed ideas about the meanings and values embodied in institutions and traditional customs (Jefferson 1989, p.11).

Youth subcultures formed as “crimes against the social order” (Hebdige 1979, p.3); perpetuated by a change of clothes, hairstyle or adoption of fandom of a particular type of music or band.By the fourteenth century, trade expansion, the growth of urban life, and the increasing sophistication of aristocratic and royal courts led to an increase in tailoring (Wilson 1985, p.16).Communications technologies introduced at the end of the nineteenth century helped spread knowledge of the latest fashions worldwide, and fashion and style have been a part of Western societies ever since.This essay will examine the punk fashion and youth movement of the late 1970s in Britain and America in the realm of the youth culture it was formed in and influenced, including how it was received by the wider Western society of the time, and its long-term impacts on Western society as a whole.There is a strong argument for fashion not having existed in any major sense before the growth of capitalism and the formation of industrial cities in Western Europe, although there is some evidence of ancient Roman and Greek ideas of fashion remaining static (Wilson 1985, p.16).As the idea of ‘youth’ appeared in post-war Britain as one of the most obvious social changes, the social landscape changed accordingly.The appearance of youth brought about new legislation, official interventions, and was signified as something “we ought to do something about” (Jefferson 1989, p.10).w=470&h=294 470w, https://ptooff.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/kingsroad1_1863755i.jpg? w=150&h=94 150w, https://ptooff.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/kingsroad1_1863755i.jpg? w=300&h=188 300w, https://ptooff.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/kingsroad1_1863755620w" sizes="(max-width: 470px) 100vw, 470px" / Style and fashion play important roles in distinguishing one social group from another and from the rest of society, and are vital in giving individuals and groups both a sense of belonging and of being unique.Through sartorial and behavioural choices group identification is produced, and just as fashion encodes style, members of a group bearing a particular fashion reinforce their tribalism.Youth was a metaphor for social change in ways which took many years to pinpoint, and an idea aided by media constructions and exaggerations about what was organic and what was forced (Gramsci 1971, p.177).Images of youth were self-destructive, misdirected, criminal, impressionable, apathetic, victimised, cool, and cutting edge (Wilson 2006, p.5).

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