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Subcultures: Cultural Histories and Social Practice by Ken Gelder

By Ken Gelder

This booklet offers a cultural historical past of subcultures, masking a outstanding variety of subcultural types and practices. It starts off with London’s ‘Elizabethan underworld’, taking the rogue and vagabond as subcultural prototypes: the root for Marx’s later view of subcultures as the lumpenproletariat, and Henry Mayhew’s view of subcultures as ‘those that may not work’. Subcultures are consistently in a roundabout way non-conforming or dissenting. they're social - with their very own shared conventions, values, rituals, etc – yet they could additionally appear ‘immersed’ or self-absorbed. This e-book identifies six key ways that subcultures have ordinarily been understood:
* via their frequently unfavourable relation to paintings: idle, parasitical, hedonistic, criminal
* their detrimental or ambivalent relation to class
* their organization with territory - the ‘street’, the ‘hood’, the membership - instead of property
* their stream clear of domestic into non-domestic kinds of ‘belonging’
* their ties to extra and exaggeration (as against restraint and moderation)
* their refusal of the banalities of normal lifestyles and specifically, of massification.

Subcultures seems to be on the manner those good points locate expression throughout many various subcultural teams: from the Ranters to the insurrection grrrls, from taxi dancers to pull queens and kings, from bebop to hip hop, from dandies to punk, from hobos to leatherfolk, and from hippies and bohemians to electronic pirates and digital groups. It argues that subcultural id is basically a question of narrative and narration, which means its concentration is literary in addition to sociological. It additionally argues for the belief of a subcultural geography: that subcultures inhabit areas specifically methods, their funding in them being as a lot imaginary as genuine and, from time to time, strikingly utopian.

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Here he turns his back on the world and faces his fellows, and is at ease’ (19). Real or rhetorical, this is a moment of pure sociality – an example of Jenks’s ‘strong sense of the “together”’ – that comes into being precisely because it is not a part of normative society. Frederic M. Thrasher’s The Gang: A Study of 1,313 Gangs in Chicago (1927) is still regarded in ‘gang studies’ (if I can call this criminological subdiscipline by this name) as its foundational text. D. from Chicago, and then moved to New York University where he taught from 1927 to 1960, becoming a Professor of Educational Sociology.

Cressey came to NYU with a reputation, the author of a remarkable book, The Taxi-Dance Hall: A Sociological Study in Commercialised Recreation and City Life (1932), which was the result of his MA research in the late 1920s while at the University of Chicago. This research was atypical at the time because it focused almost entirely on women: the so-called taxi-dancers who worked in dance clubs in Chicago and who were hired by men to dance with them and keep them company. The venues were also sometimes called ‘dime-a-dance halls’, and they were found in many cities across the United States, although usually away from the main entertainment precincts.

Journalists and novelists continued to chronicle gay, lesbian and crossdressing subcultural activity, testifying to its prolonged visibility in public life. George Chauncey makes the same point about ‘Gay New York’ around the end of the nineteenth century and up to the First World War, charting ‘a highly visible, remarkably complex, and continually changing gay male world’ in the city, across a number of neighbourhoods and public precincts (Chauncey 1994: 1). ’ (8). Travellers and communities This chapter has wanted to give subcultures a ‘vagabond’ history, turning to the rogues and vagabonds of Elizabethan England as a point of origin and identifying a set of cultural logics through which subcultures have historically been understood: as organised social worlds which might even have their own languages; as ‘parasitical’ on labour and the economy, self-interested rather than, say, class conscious; as deviating from home and family; linked more to the street or the road than to a ‘settled’ existence and property ownership; as impoverished in some respects, extravagant or excessive in others; and as in some ways secretive while in other ways all too visible.

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