Redefining the subcultural: The sub and the cultural

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Arguing against the previous research’s presumption that the subcultural
constitutes a single set of meaning, this article addresses the simple
question of what constitutes the subcultural? What does it mean when we
address an object, practice, identity, or meaning structure as subcultural?
Through outlining three dominant strands in regards to how subcultural
difference has been defined, the author argues that the previous
research on subcultural theory has been preoccupied with a definition
of subcultures as being a response to external structural problems, with
the result that both the “sub” and the “cultural” become dependent
variables. Drawing from his work on punks in Sweden and Indonesia the
author argues that although differing, the different strands in regards to
subcultural difference can nevertheless be combined into a refinement
of subcultural theory that moves beyond style to how objects, actions,
and identities are communicated, interpreted, and acted upon. Such a
refinement, the author argues, provides for an analysis of plurality within
the subcultural in relation to multiple structures of meaning. An increased
focus on the prefix sub and its relation to the root cultural allows for a
discussion of how the subcultural is symbolically extended and more so,
how this involves both conflict and alternative interpretations.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Sociology


  • mainstream, punk, scene, subcultures, subcultural theory
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-74
Number of pages25
JournalEducare - Vetenskapliga Skrifter
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch