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What Makes a Subculture?

Last posted Dec 09, 2012 at 12:17PM EST. Added Dec 09, 2012 at 12:04AM EST
6 posts from 4 users

ITT: Dat thread title.

I figured that we might as well have some sort of mostly-objective definition of what makes a subculture what it is, because I find that the word is used too often without any connotation behind it. So, this could serve as a place for people to refer when they want to submit a “subculture” entry.

Here is what I personally believe merits a subculture. I have three points:

1. Commitment-To be a subculture, the following in question must include a number of members that are committed to a degree that it can influence patterns of everyday life. This includes usage of free time, collections of commodities, and even character traits.

2. Identity-Members of the subculture must share a sense of affiliation with each other, or distinctness from people who are not members of the subculture must be clear. This differentiates a “subculture” from “individual fans or supporters of something.”

3. Distinctness-Yes, this one does fall in life with identity, but they are subjectively different. To determine a subculture, one must be able to identify qualities that separate members of the subculture from the “outsiders” in some way.

Autonomy can also be important in determining what a subculture is. The subculture has no particular governing or driving force other than its own members. They shouldn’t necessarily let mainstream influences shape the mold and model of their subculture. This is compulsory if the subculture and its members are to prosper, and if the subculture is to succeed.

A fandom is not necessarily an Internet subculture. I see people think this far too often. I say this because in reality, by technical definition a fandom is a subculture. However, KnowYourMeme’s purpose is to document Internet culture, so by this classification, a fandom that has no substance on the Internet is not eligible for an entry on the site.

There you have it. Discuss!

Dec 09, 2012 at 12:04AM EST
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I think those are mostly good criteria for a subculture to meet in order to be considered a true subculture. I say mostly because I fail to see how identity and distinctness are separate criteria. Could you elaborate on the difference between them?

Last edited Dec 09, 2012 at 12:47AM EST
Dec 09, 2012 at 12:43AM EST
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I think the main difference between a Subculture and a Fandom is the fact that a Subculture can gain a notable amount of interest and knowledge outside of it’s dedicated fanbase.

Touhou, Valve Games, Nintendo Games, Phoenix Wright, My Little Pony, Steampunk, and quite a few other Subcultures share this distinction.

Last edited Dec 09, 2012 at 04:26AM EST
Dec 09, 2012 at 04:25AM EST
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Are Subcultures like extended fandoms then? After all, a subculture will usually start off as a fandom of something and grow to gain importance, prominence and overall memeticism across the internet.

Dec 09, 2012 at 04:57AM EST
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Indeed, subcultures are extended fandoms. How this transition is to be made can be through prominence, sheer number of fans, reputation, and in this case, a status of popularity on the Internet; which can be by way of any or all of the above factors.

YNG, The Santa Grey wrote:

I think those are mostly good criteria for a subculture to meet in order to be considered a true subculture. I say mostly because I fail to see how identity and distinctness are separate criteria. Could you elaborate on the difference between them?

To identify as a supporter or follower of something is to take a level of affiliation with the other people supporting or following the medium in question. This is not a distinction notable enough to make a subculture what it is, at least on the Internet. There is no aspect of a subculture to a fandom that is purported to have members if they do not separate themselves from those of separate fandoms. To identify as something is to set a point of distinction, but when looking for an Internet subculture, it is not wise to dwell on that.

Distinctions are qualities that set the members of the fandom apart and the “outsiders” apart. Identity is a distinction, but I made Distinction its own category because I see more to it than choosing to label oneself as something. From my point of view, Distinction means the productions and effects on one’s life and their choices. Identification has nothing to do with that. How somebody chooses to use their free time or what they listen to or do for a living is what sets them apart from merely identifying with something, it is what creates the “distinctions” between fandom and subculture.

Natsuru Springfield wrote:

I think the main difference between a Subculture and a Fandom is the fact that a Subculture can gain a notable amount of interest and knowledge outside of it’s dedicated fanbase.

Touhou, Valve Games, Nintendo Games, Phoenix Wright, My Little Pony, Steampunk, and quite a few other Subcultures share this distinction.

That is a very good point, and I cannot argue it. There are subcultures centered in the actual age demographic of the media they follow (Star Trek, Doctor Who, The Simpsons), but there are enough examples to prove your point that I suppose it does deserve some mention on the list.

Dec 09, 2012 at 08:59AM EST
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To identify as a supporter or follower of something is to take a level of affiliation with the other people supporting or following the medium in question. This is not a distinction notable enough to make a subculture what it is, at least on the Internet. There is no aspect of a subculture to a fandom that is purported to have members if they do not separate themselves from those of separate fandoms. To identify as something is to set a point of distinction, but when looking for an Internet subculture, it is not wise to dwell on that.
Distinctions are qualities that set the members of the fandom apart and the “outsiders” apart. Identity is a distinction, but I made Distinction its own category because I see more to it than choosing to label oneself as something. From my point of view, Distinction means the productions and effects on one’s life and their choices. Identification has nothing to do with that. How somebody chooses to use their free time or what they listen to or do for a living is what sets them apart from merely identifying with something, it is what creates the “distinctions” between fandom and subculture.

Identity is ultimately the product of the distinct qualities of a subculture. Distinctness, while not the exact same as identity, still seems to be an aspect of it. I still don’t see why it’s necessary to mention both as though they’re each separate criterion.

Dec 09, 2012 at 12:17PM EST
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Skeletor-sm

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