Subcultures: Sociology and Young People

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Identify and explain two reasons why young people join youth subcultures (17 marks)

Functionalists would argue that people need to be integrated into society to feel a sense of belonging. This is called social integration and without they believe that society would break down and experience ‘anomie’, where people lack a sense of belonging. For young people, the integration comes from the family during primary socialisation or the media or education in secondary education. The subcultures can share the same interests such as their style or music tastes. This was demonstrated when Hodkinson interviewed Goths in his study on subcultures and found that music was a key attraction to Goth culture. Many members of the subculture stated that they were first attracted after hearing bands such as ‘the cure’. Brake (1980) suggests that youth subcultures are ‘magic’. He believes that membership can provide safety from economic problems commonly experienced by working-class youth. They had low self-esteem from being lower class, being at the bottom of the social hierarchy and by holding anti-school values. Because of this they were looked down upon. But in their subculture, those values which degrade them in society give them status within the group, building up their self-esteem. The members of a subculture would share your problems and you could relate to them as they are facing the same problems, bringing a sense of belonging. By being in a subculture, Brake believes that young people are given the chance to express their freedom and experiment with new ideas and that the subculture convinces it’s members that their generation will differ from that of their parents resulting in the social problems of the time being ‘solved’. They are seen to give ‘magical solutions’ because they don’t solve anything in reality. However, many youth join them to feel like they belong and have people that they can relate to.
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