The 60’s and 70’s saw the rise of youth culture. Youth culture can be seen as a particular pattern of beliefs, values, symbols and activities that a group of young people are seen to share.
Along with the rise of youth culture came the theories developed on it. The theories developed in the 60’s were mainly functionalism. Functionalists believe that society or a social structure is like a biological structure and that all social institutions function for the survival of society. As social structures change by becoming more complex, social institutions change by becoming more specialised. Functionalists, therefore, believe youth culture has a social function; they see it as young people solving there shared social problems.
The Marxist theories on youth culture came in the 1970’s. Marxists believe that society operates mainly through class conflict and that each class pursues its own interests and brings it into conflict with other classes. The Marxist influenced Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) used these ideas to explain youth culture. They argued that youth culture was the result of youths fighting against a capitalist society. In this essay I will look at the theories developed on youth culture in the 60’s and 70’s and assess whether they can be related to the youth culture of today. The theories I will explore are Abrams ideas on youth culture and consumerism, Eisenstadts functionalist theory and the Marxist theories of the CCCS, Cohen and Hebdidge.
Mark Abram’s book “The Teenage Consumer,” was the first influential sociological study of youth culture. Abrams was a market researcher and his book was an empirical survey of a new consumer group that had emerged in the 1950’s. This new consumer group that was emerging was referred to as youth culture and was predominantly made up of working class males. Abrams suggested that youth culture was developing in the 50’s because of the affluence of the decade. Young...