Response to Dick Hebdige – Subcultures

Rather than isolating what subcultures are – I think Hebdige has focussed on what certain subcultures have done over the years and why they have done so. Hebdige expects his readers to know what subcultures are already.

He argues that looking at subcultures based on traditional semiotics fails to provide a way in to the meanings of punk culture – the basis and foundation of this reading.

Within the opening sentences Hebdige argues that subculture is a metaphor for potential anarchy for “out there” – already in the public sphere. He also said that subcultures should be seen as a temporary blockage in the system of representation.

Subcultures are anarchic then? Anarchy is a form of attacking the oppression that many people feel that they have been subjected to. To tie in with Hall’s earlier text – anarchy and youth culture – which does also include the punk culture in this reading – combine an emotional and powerful response against the systems within society.

Rising up and creating your own world is another way I would describe anarchism, which also typifies the punk culture of the 1980s which would have put fear into the minds of many.  

However, I don’t think all subcultures are anarchic. The punk culture aims to be as outlined by Hebdige “clothed in chaos”. And I feel that what he is trying to illustrate that subcultures are anti structure – they are one cultures annoying little brother – niggling away at you, desperately seeking attention and frustratedly deciding to do its own thing as it was not listened to.

However, I didn’t find the clear meanings in this reading as I did with Halls work, which I covered previously. From a personal slant, I found this to be a little vague and maybe a little too concentrated on one subculture.

That said, I think the title – the meaning of style, which is linked to fashion is evident of the punk subculture – it is all about the look, particularly in youth subcultures when the media circulates the fashion industry at break neck speed for youth audiences.

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