Throughout history, there have always been tensions between societal norms and subcultural views. One example of this can be found in the book Folk Devils and Moral Panic (Cohen, 1972), where we see the role the media has on how society views the subcultures of the rockers and mods, and how it impacted the youth of the time. Even as society develops, there is still a stigma towards certain subcultures, labeling them a nuisance because they do not fit into what is deemed the ‘social norm.
’We are Adeline Winklaar, Lórená Ráiltón, Elisia Cornelis, Yeana Choi, Britt Braekmans and Sibrecht Moens, students of second year Youth Culture/PK at the Arteveldehogeschool in Ghent. As part of our studies we performed a two-part study to see how a specific group of subcultures are viewed, in this case; Goth, Disco, Punk, and Hippie, which were chosen because they are four of the most ground-breaking subcultures of the 20th century.In the first part of the study, we created a survey to find out what people from around the world think about these subcultures. The survey had a total of 96 responses from people across the world and from different age groups. These are the results of our survey.(While the survey is closed you are still able to take a look at all the questions by clicking here.)
Q1. What’s the public opinion about Goth, Punk, Hippie and Disco?Due to the survey we discovered that out of the two given definitions (positive- negative) that the selections were about 50-50%. Meaning that the opinions were divided. We also discovered that most people seem to be aware that there is a variety of subcultures around. However Punk and Goth are the two most commonly known.
One of the questions we asked if the people who took part in the survey knew if their parents belong to a subculture during their youth and the answers were divided by no or either they don’t know. Lastly we asked if they belong to a subculture and the answers to this question were either no or they were only partially a part of a subculture, meaning listening to the music or dress like them but wouldn’t identify themselves as a full member of the subculture.
Q2: What do you think about Goths?When asked what words come to mind when people hear the words “Goth” or “Gothic” we found out that darkness and the color black where the most used words to describe them.Most people seem to know people and artists belonging to the subculture. The general perception was rather divided with 55% being neutral, 27% being positive and a survey high 11% being negative.
Q3: What do you think about Punk?When asked what words come to mind when people hear the words “Punk” or “Punkers” we found out that “anarchy” was the most used words to describe them.Most people didn’t know people who were Punks however, about 65% did know Punk artists. The general perceptions were 58% neutral, 27% being positive and both negative and “I don’t know” formed 15%.
Q4: What do you think about Hippies?When asked what words come to mind when people hear the word “Hippie” we found out that most people would link hippies to drug (ab)use.We had a divided yet outspoken perception with the majority being 41% neutral, 39% positive and 9% negative.
Q5: What do you think about Disco?The results we got showed us that most people don’t know others into Disco, but most know (70%) Disco artists. Once again, the general perceptions were positive with 36.5 % and a survey low 3% negative. One last observation is that most people don’t seem to know what Disco subculture is about other than the music/ dancing. They don’t seem to know the time period link to it (some people thought about 70’s or 90’s). They also don’t seem to know other activities this subculture likes to take part in. etc.
The last question we asked in the survey was “Out of the four subculture, which one do you relate to most?”. The results showed us that there is a direct relation between the perception and the responses to this question. Disco and Hippies were the two most relatable ones, they were also the most positively seen subcultures. Goths came in last due to the mainly negative perception to the subculture.
In a second part of our project we will take the results from the survey and will discuss these using first hand research, interviews with people belonging to the subcultures in question, etc.
Cohen, S. (1972). Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers.United Kingdom.