Punk Subculture

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With the high pace of modernization since the 20th Century, people tend to be mechanized into living where they live. Concerned with the erosion of identify and distinct ways of life, large quantities of subculture emerged,especially in the late 1960s and 1970s. Bourdieu has already coined the term ‘cultural capital’ to explicate the cultural asserts available within society. As provided with unique habitus and subcultural production, diverse subcultures often distinct through different subcultural capitals. This essay will interpret the notion of ‘subcultural capital’ thoroughly and analyses how it assists subgroups differentiate themselves from other social groups, especially focusing on the punk subcultural capital and its contemporary condition. Based on the theoretical foundation on cultural capital originally put forward by Bourdieu, Thornton further developed this notion ‘subcultural capital’ to make sense of the distinctions made by different subcultures and their unique cultural worth, which helps the subculture larruping (Thornton, 1996). Different from the social capital and economic capital, which mainly concerned with status and fund, the subcultural capital focuses on the accumulated knowledge within a particular subculture. Therefore, it is more related to the essence of the culture, rather than the transmission. In this way, Subcultural capital plays a more important role than the social and economic ones on group identification. Subcultural capital usually originates from the social groups and then exposure to public to set off cultural practice, through which get subcultural productions, mainly are the music, art, literature and fashion. And both the subculture capital and the subculture production may shape the habitus in terms of their cultural tastes. In return, the habitus and the production result in an accumulation of subcultural capital. This process appears to be a circuit and operate to develop the cultural uniqueness. (see Figure 1)

Figure 1 The circuit among subcultural capital, habitus and subcultural production The Subcultural capital helps differentiate themselves from the others in the whole circuit. Firstly, the subcultural capital itself draws a clear dividing line between the subculture and the mainstream one. In general, the knowledge of subculture which is provided by subcultural capital is more subversive and expressive than the mainstream culture because it often acted as a resistant force against the dominate culture (Forgan, 2002). More often, subcultural capital relates to some sensitive topics, such as homosexuality and anti-establishment, some even directly oppose to the ideals accoladed by mainstream society. These particular beliefs create the unique subculture values. For instance, the punk subculture is based on their philosophy of antiauthority and individualism. For example, the daft punk held a concert underground in 2009, with the title of ‘Aer Obama’, in which punks mock the US government. Although the punk style changes a lot since its emergence, these ideologies have never converted and influenced on the punks for generations. Secondly, the subcultural capital shapes the members’ habitus significantly, which characterize the subculture. The group of members generally congregates on the basis of the shared subcultural knowledge, and this accumulated knowledge will continually modify individual’s habits, lifestyles and beliefs in an unconscious way. In this manner, the subcultures centralized their respective cultural values and the members affirm that they are different from the anonymous mass (Thornton, 1995). For example, the punk subculture originates from the punk music in which adolescents expressed their anger and dissatisfaction towards the temporal social conditions. Before long, the punk subculture developed under the ideologies of anti-establishment and individualism (Swanepoel, n.d). This knowledge implicitly gives alternative values to the young and...
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