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The Role of Subcultures in the Life of Young People: 3 Points of View

Diversity of Views

Recently the ways of considering what social phenomena are subcultures, what impact they can have on youngsters and what role they play in their lives are becoming more and more diverse and – to put it mildly – far from unity. Despite this fact and after having analyzed the most common ideas, we will try to split the difference by choosing and thinking over the most popular statements referring to the topic from people of different age, background and social status. So, let us look at the matter in three ways.

Statements for Beneficial Effect from Being Engaged in a Subculture

To start with, one of the most popular ideas is that subcultures are an excellent way of self-expression in the young age. And it makes sense because striving to self-expression in these most vulnerable years of life is more than natural because of the fact that in this way individuals gain a sense of belonging and, as a result, stop feeling out of a group. In this sense, it can be called a sort of escaping from loneliness. Moreover, the possibility of being understood in this self-expression is more likely to be found in the group of «soul mates» which is the foundation of a specific subculture. However, we should notice that the majority of people supporting this first point of view are present or former participants of various movements (about which we are talking), so it is pretty considerable to regard this one as a look from the inside.

Statements for Negative Impact of Youth Subcultures

Another point of view from the opposite group of people having never been involved in subcultures states: subcultures have a negative impact on young individuals. Obviously, they rather refer to subcultures, which support protesting pseudo-ideology of its own only with one purpose – to do both mental and even physical harm to the community (e.g. skinheads, punks, vandals etc.). Also, they take up an idea that any subculture can seriously distort a sense of reality. In some respect, it is rather reasonable, for if we take a culture as a universe, then subcultures, which exist within the one, are planets with the realities of theirs own. It is obvious that every subculture is a dissimilar planet with its own history, laws of evolution, rules, ideology and even conception of beauty, lifestyle, fashion and other categories. So, in some sense, they are really a kind of parallel realities. But the question is – how much the person which lives in some different world, called а «subculture», is engrossed in it and is he/she stable enough to not cross the line between (excuse me for the tautology) the «real reality» and the built up one. Taking into consideration that teenagers often are very emotionally unstable and immature enough for making conscious choices, participation in a subculture can really detach them from real life and thus distort their sense of reality. In some time, all this can result in serious problems referring to such important processes as socialization, professionalization and so on. A person who has taken the first step away from society will do all the following steps with much greater ease. And moving away from reality, it will seem to him that only now he begins to understand the meaning of life. One can only be horrified at the scale of self-delusion into which a person can fall, depending on his psychological inclinations, receptivity and level of fantasy.

A Neutral Position «In-Between»

Finally, the most neutral position affirms that subcultures are no more harmful means of escapism in comparison to Internet or TV. In this respect, obviously, there is no use in denying the existence of negative impact on minds from all above-mentioned means of influence, but the things cannot be only one-sided, can they? Let us say, taking into consideration only negative aspects of the matters we give them no chance. The rightest decision is to take subcultures (as well as the Internet and TV) not as means of escapism, but as the alternatives which young people can benefit from (by means of self-expression, making friends of the same interests, finding soul mates etc.).  

A Subculture Is What We Want It to Be


In conclusion, having analyzed the most common ideas on the matter we can summarize: all the ideas about the role of subcultures in the life of the young people can be taken right or wrong in distinct standpoints, so there is no need to make them mutually exclusive.  Of course, things are much more successfully looked at from a single window and subcultures are not an exception, but a true gist of the phenomenon can be found somewhere in-between: the subcultures play bigger or smaller role and are better or worse for youngsters depending on the sense that every of them puts in it.

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