Hipsters Subculture Analysis Critical Thinkings Example
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A subculture refers to the group of people who carries values and beliefs that are different from the mainstream culture. Hipster is very popular subculture that came into existence during 1940s and became popular during late 1990s and is still prevailing in our contemporary society. The Hipster subculture primarily represents white millennial people who are living in metropolitan areas and do not follow or believe in larger mainstream culture. Hipster subculture often described as culture of transforming styles, behaviours and tastes. The subculture is largely associated with alternate forms of music, alternative lifestyles, vintage cloths, thrift store cloths, fashion and organic foods. The objective of this paper is to discuss how hipster subculture is continuously evolving and influencing our mainstream culture.
It is believed that the term, ‘Hipster’ is made by using word ‘Hip’ or ‘Hep’. Hipster describes a culture that became popular in 1940s. People who were part of this culture were known and separated for their dressing sense, language, sarcasm, humorous lifestyle, relaxed attitude, use of cannabis and sexual habits. Hipsters used to be philosophical up to some extent. Basically it was a different lifestyle that influenced many others even from different cultures. Contemporary Jazz musicians were the most famous people who adopted and practiced hipster lifestyle.
Hipsters formed various clubs where they used to entertain people during 1960s and 1970s. Music fueled their growing popularity and hipsters became youth icons. Their influence on the mainstream society was clearly visible. Hipsters were the innovators who used to innovate in various areas of life. They brought back long hair, dressing style, music, beer and cigarettes when the mainstream society was stuck into their television sets. Hipsters continued influencing the society in different phases of time in different manners.
Amalgamation of all these things made hipsters popular and youngsters were highly influenced by them. They wanted to be like them and enjoy their life like hipsters. A number of youngsters joined them and became part of hipster subculture culture in contemporary period. African Americans were some early known hipsters of United States, but number of white male who joined them was not fewer. A huge number of white people also joined them subsequently. Relaxed lifestyle, music, cannabis, open and bizarre sexual relations attracted a number of people to join hipsters.
Julia Plevin, in her article, defines “hipster’ remains opaque to anyone outside this self-proclaiming, highly-selective circle". Plevin adds “whole point of hipsters is that they avoid labels and being labeled. However, they all dress the same and act the same and conform in their non-conformity to an iconic carefully created sloppy vintage look” (Plevin). Plevin says that hipster as a group follow same ideology but their ideology is different from ideology of contemporary culture. Hipsters like to talk and share their ideas with the people who share same values and beliefs.
It is observed that hipsters’ lifestyle is continuously evolving, and their fashion keeps on changing. Therefore, it is difficult to associate them with any specific style or fashion. Hipsters generally come from elite and middle class families. Hipster represents distinct subculture, in which hipsters praise and prefer the use of obscure cultural products. Hipsters generally refuse anything from mainstream culture, especially consumerism despite of the fact that majority of hipsters’ population live in urban areas such as New York, and Chicago. Hipsters are very creative and can be found in fields that involve creativity, independent thinking and innovation such as fashion, art, and music.
Hebdige mentioned that subcultures influence main culture by using two characteristics forms: one, by converting subculture signs such as music, fashion, and lifestyle; and second, by redefining behaviour using dominant groups such as media, judiciary and police. The first refers as commodity form and second form refers as ideology forms. Hipster subculture impacted contemporary society by using both forms. Their music, fashion and commodities are liked by huge population. They also acquire good media space may not necessarily positive (Hebdige).
Hipsters are constantly maintaining their identity and originality through all their fashions, and ideologies because they are strongly tied to hipster subculture. Hipsters made huge emotional investments in establishing their subculture and giving it a strong identity in presence of mainstream culture. In presence of strong subculture, it is difficult for mainstream culture to maintain their originality and creativity in commercial commodities. The subculture either gets mixed or dominates mainstream culture (Dowd and Dowd).
Hipsters since the formation of hipster subculture maintain their identity through their unique dressing, life style and ideologies. Hipsters are free thinkers who believe in progressive politics. They are down to earth, innovative, artistic, and well informed about politics and environment. There are some negative ideologies formed about hipsters, but not all hipsters correspond to those ideologies. Hipsters believe in maintaining their authentic spirit and developing commodities at local level keeping environment in mind.
Translation of creativity into commodity catches eyes of media and made hipster’s product available and accessible for common public. In contemporary society, people who want to look different from their friends, colleagues and boss like hipsters’ fashion. It is important to understand why consumers buy hipster products? Are they only driven by distinct look or by values and beliefs of hipster subculture? It is true that the main driving factor behind purchase of hipster products is distinction from main culture but look factor also can not be ignored. People like their creativities, art and innovation.
Urban Outfitters and American Apparel and several online websites including eBay sell hipster products. Hipster subculture influences mainstream culture because their ideology is based on what is suitable for large percentage of consumers. They prefer products that are environment friendly and cost effective. Hipsters are not in favour of consumerism and they can easily found shopping at economic stores.
Hipsters utilize visual objects in order to inspire other people and strongly place their subculture among the people of mainstream culture. Hipsters keep themselves down to earth and more focused on their own believes. Despite of the evolution of their style, fashion and lifestyle, their ideology remain same. Schiermer (2014) in their study analyzed impact of subculture on western culture. The author mentioned that cultural development carried out by hipster subculture are very visible and prominent in our contemporary society. Hipsters’ ideology is based on distinction that encourage people to join them because there are several people who want to be different. People like the way they act, react, and take care of community in which they are living (Schiermer).
Hipsters did not only influence youngsters on the basis of their dressing, style and practices, but some of their practices attracted the people and influenced mainstream society. Hipsters were environment lover and they encouraged people to protect the environment through their practices that attracted and educated mainstream society. Hipsters also influenced the mainstream society through their austerity practices. They were down to earth people who used to believe in spending less (Schiermer).
Having observed the hipster subculture, and its various aspects, the paper concludes that hipsters were known for their distinguished lifestyle and practices. Hipsters influenced the mainstream society, especially youngsters in different ways and for different reasons. Hipsters were style lovers, music lovers, cannabis users and relaxed people, but at the same time they were also down to earth and environmentalists. Hipsters taught youngsters to lead a burden free life at one hand while they also taught people to preserve the environment and practice austerity in their life. Hipsters affected the society in both positive and negative ways. Their influence on the mainstream society lasted for many years.
Dowd, J. and Dowd, L. A. "The center holds: From subcultures to social worlds." Teaching Sociology 31.1 (2003): 20-37.
Hebdige, Dick. Subculture. New York, NY: Routledge, 2007.
Plevin, Julia. "Who's a Hipster?" 09 August 2008. Huffington Post. Electronic. 2 April 2015.
Schiermer, Bjorn. "Late-modern hipsters: New tendencies in popular culture." Acta Sociologica 57.2 (2014): 167-181 .
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