Special Issue "Youth Cultures and Subcultures"

A special issue of Societies (ISSN 2075-4698).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Carlo Genova Website E-Mail
Department of Culture, Politics and Society, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
Interests: lifestyles and subcultures; youth cultures; social analysis of space; interpretative sociology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The study of youth cultures and of youth subcultures has a long and articulated tradition in social sciences. The concepts of “youth cultures” and “subcultures” date back to the mid-1940s, in the wake of the way opened by the Chicago School two decades before—but a lot of studies conducted before the terms were coined had also been dedicated to the analysis of phenomena subsequently identified through these categories. Throughout the long history of this field of study, a huge amount of research has been done on very different phenomena and varying interpretative perspectives have been developed. Nevertheless, “youth cultures” and “subcultures” today continue to represent relevant and useful concepts, and analytical perspectives, in the analysis of several social forms characterized by a significant presence of young people.

The purpose of the Special Issue, “Youth Cultures and Subcultures”, is to reflect on the study of youth cultures and subcultures in today’s society. What different theoretical and methodological approaches can be adopted in this study? How have the two concepts and the related analytical perspectives changed over time? What are the limitations and potential of each approach? How can these two concepts and the different analytical perspectives be useful in the study of today’s empirical phenomena? What alternative concepts and perspectives could be adopted? These are only some of the possible questions that this Special Issue aims to address through theoretical, methodological, and empirical articles. We therefore look forward to your submissions covering any of the aforementioned topics.

Dr. Carlo Genova
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Class, Style and Territory in the Drari Microcultures of Brussels
Societies 2019, 9(3), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9030064 - 11 Sep 2019
Abstract
Much like Parsons’s notion of “youth culture,” the tradition of subculture developed by the Birmingham School was criticised as being too romantic, too general, and too dependent on a simplistic model based on the inside/outside binary. Since the 1990s, “post-subcultural” studies have developed [...] Read more.
Much like Parsons’s notion of “youth culture,” the tradition of subculture developed by the Birmingham School was criticised as being too romantic, too general, and too dependent on a simplistic model based on the inside/outside binary. Since the 1990s, “post-subcultural” studies have developed which prefer to focus on agency rather than structure. A “third school” of youth cultural studies focused on medium sizes groups and their attachment to place, which they called “microcultures”. This paper, drawing from fieldwork undertaken in Brussels between 2013 and 2016 with young people, studies members of the Brussels “street culture” called the drari, while zooming in on the combinations of personalities, the events they share and the locations they make their own. Specifically, this paper argues that the drari microculture does not fit in the binary model of (post-)subcultural theory, nor in the criminological frame of urban youth gangs, by focusing on the affective and class-related phenomena internal to their practices of territory-building. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Cultures and Subcultures)
Open AccessArticle
Between Pleasure and Resistance: The Role of Substance Consumption in an Italian Working-Class Subculture
Societies 2019, 9(3), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9030058 - 14 Aug 2019
Abstract
In this article I discuss how illegal substance consumption can act as a tool of resistance and as an identity signifier for young people through a covert ethnographic case study of a working-class subculture in Genoa, North-Western Italy. I develop my argument through [...] Read more.
In this article I discuss how illegal substance consumption can act as a tool of resistance and as an identity signifier for young people through a covert ethnographic case study of a working-class subculture in Genoa, North-Western Italy. I develop my argument through a coupled reading of the work of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) and more recent post-structural developments in the fields of youth studies and cultural critical criminology. I discuss how these apparently contrasting lines of inquiry, when jointly used, shed light on different aspects of the cultural practices of specific subcultures contributing to reflect on the study of youth cultures and subcultures in today’s society and overcoming some of the ‘dead ends’ of the opposition between the scholarly categories of subculture and post-subculture. In fact, through an analysis of the sites, socialization processes, and hedonistic ethos of the subculture, I show how within a single subculture there could be a coexistence of: resistance practices and subversive styles of expression as the CCCS research program posits; and signs of fragmentary and partial aesthetic engagements devoid of political contents and instead primarily oriented towards the affirmation of the individual, as argued by the adherents of the post-subcultural position. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Cultures and Subcultures)
Open AccessArticle
The Elephant in the Room: Youth, Cognition, and Student Groups in Mass Social Movements
Societies 2019, 9(3), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9030055 - 09 Aug 2019
Abstract
Student and youth groups are often vanguard actors in turbulent times. This article proposes that when they are part of broader social movements, they can introduce strong age-cohort influences in a movement’s development. These influences derive from the balance between youths and adults [...] Read more.
Student and youth groups are often vanguard actors in turbulent times. This article proposes that when they are part of broader social movements, they can introduce strong age-cohort influences in a movement’s development. These influences derive from the balance between youths and adults in a movement and their interrelationships, especially over the long term when demands remain unanswered by the state. Other influences include resource availability, which tends to cluster with older generations, tactical specialization according to age cohorts, and the tendency of groups with younger members to be willing to take greater risks, be more passionate in their demands, and more militant in their tactics. In this report, we identified several empirically recognized cognitive dimensions relevant to youthful participation: (1) identity search, (2) risk taking, (3) emotionality, and (4) cognitive triggering. These cognitive factors of late adolescence and early adulthood can energize a movement when young cohorts participate but also run the risk of alienating older members and public opinion. We discussed how mass movements for political and/or cultural change are frequently intergenerational and how intergenerational relations can mitigate the inward-turning and militant tendencies of young adults. In broad movements for social change, these relations can create a division of labor in which students are the vanguard actors and the older members mobilize the social and material resources available to them. Under other conditions, youth and student groups wield a two-edged sword with the capability of energizing a movement or alienating older cohorts of militants and public opinion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Cultures and Subcultures)
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Open AccessArticle
Researching Transgression: Ana as a Youth Subculture in the Age of Digital Ethnography
Societies 2019, 9(3), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9030053 - 08 Jul 2019
Abstract
In this paper, we explore the contribution of material and digital ethnography to providing a deeper understanding of youth subcultures. We provide the context by reviewing some of the research carried out by the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) to provide a [...] Read more.
In this paper, we explore the contribution of material and digital ethnography to providing a deeper understanding of youth subcultures. We provide the context by reviewing some of the research carried out by the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) to provide a historical overview of cultural studies and critically appraise how they have drawn on ethnography as a way of deepening our understanding of young people’s subculture. We then draw on digital ethnographic data to explore the lived experiences of Ana girls, that is, young women who advocate anorexic and bulimic behaviours as legitimate lifestyle choices, as they explore and negotiate their identity through online social media platforms with like-minded people. The aim is to demonstrate the potential of longitudinal digital ethnography to provide insights into these girls’ transgressive voices played out through online spaces. In narrating the Ana girls through digital storytelling, we argue that digital ethnography is the only way to access and understand their experiences and as such, has a unique role to play in advancing sociological understanding of their complex lived experiences. Thus, we suggest that digital ethnography provides a unique way of capturing longitudinal data and that this knowledge is important to bring about greater understanding of the challenges facing these girls as they grapple with complex problems. This greater understanding could inform changes to practice needed to better support Ana girls in online spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Cultures and Subcultures)
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