A subculture is an exceptional culture that is shared between a small group of people who also form part of a bigger culture. In order to have a functional culture in a wide area, every social group must have a culture of its own which has its own goals, values, norms, and unique way of doing things. As Adorno, Gödde and Jephcott pointed out, such cultural group is not just a miniature or partial culture but a fully-fledged and complete culture on its own rights. Every family, community, organisation or ethnic group has its own culture and therefore, every individual participates in a number of cultures that have diverse practices. Meeting those social expectations based on various cultures is more often considered by the individuals living in such complex and heterogeneous societies like America.
In ordinary circumstances, a larger culture often comprises of many subcultures and the members are often free to be part of them. Every subculture has its own distinct customs, practices and norms that are unique to the broader culture in which it is encased. For instance, the Amish, hippies, bikers or Whovians are distinct groups with unique cultures which are different in their own ways despite being a part of the broader culture of the United States.
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Types of subcultures
Sociologists have studied how different types of subcultures are formed from time to time and they can be classified on four major categories which are ethnic, occupational, religious, political, social class and deviant subcultures.
In terms of ethnicity, the subcultures are based on the origin of the group. Most immigrants have maintained their identities and traditional beliefs even while adjusting to the demands of a wider society in the new environment. Despite being originally distinct group before immigration, they have managed to become an integrated subcultural society in modern America. For instance, the America’s newest immigrants from India, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Africa have managed to maintain their values while adjusting to the values of new communities in New York, Los Angeles and other major cities and simultaneously encouraging their descendants to achieve success in American terms.
The occupational subculture is achieved when people from different social set-ups meet in occupations that have distinct lifestyles beyond work engagements. For instance, most financial organizations such as the Wall Street in New York City are characterized with power, greed and materialism. In most countries, the police force is often characterized with brutality, cruelty but involve people from distinct subcultures. In political and geographical classification, this subculture involves a small marginalized political group where member’s entire way of life is an expression of their political convictions. They most often reject most of what the majority political culture proposes but maintain their engagement in the large society.
Religious subculture is recognizable when a certain subculture is determined by the religious believes. These groups continue to practice their own faith as they participate in culture of the region. Some of these cultures in America are the Muslims, Jews, and some Christian evangelical splinter groups. Sometimes, the values of these groups are very distinct from the culture in the region. The religious beliefs and their attitude towards some social and cultural aspects of these groups set them apart from the general society and other members of the community.
The last most influential subculture is based on social class. This subculture serves to adapt members by the lifestyle they lead and helps in preparing their children in assuming that social status. Although the social class cuts across ethnic, religious geographical and other present subdivisions of the society it is possible to discern some cultural differences among these classes. Sociologists have documented that the inherent linguistic styles household and family forms are applied in child rearing in the social class subculture.
Lastly, we have the deviant subcultures which are rarely recognized officially by the society is the deviant subculture. In their effort to study this subculture, the sociologists explain the criminal elements in the society and juvenile delinquencies. This interest has expanded the interests of studying this subculture that are socially marginalized thus leading their unique lifestyle that crush with the mainstream society in important dimensions. Some of the most common deviant subcultures whose studies have been documented in sociology include strippers, prostitutes, pickpockets, criminal groups and drug users.
International Student – Subculture
The diversity in culture of the institutions of higher learning has affected more students from foreign countries who have no privy to the prevalent cultures. The rights and freedoms granted by the universal charter of human rights have allowed everyone to exercise their cultural practices despite the geographical locations if it does not contravene the regional laws. The main reason for choosing this subculture is because it has been a pertinent question that media and government has given ambivalence response due to their possibilities of being regarded as threat to public morality or economically beneficial.
Most universities in the United States and United Kingdom have some orientation modules that outline and critically examine various youth subcultures. This acquaints the international students with information on the existing subcultures predominantly from the post-war era in the USA and UK. Students are introduced to various researches on media and cultural studies, ethnography and social science which help them in making decisions and choices on social life. A thorough examination of the moral, socio-economic, political and cultural practice helps the international students to understand the foreign life based on major themes and concepts. These themes include sexuality, class, gender, politics, identity, resistance, gender, race, creativity and commodification.
One of the most important events for the international students is to enable them understand the key dialectic shaping concept that links culture and commerce. The international students are encouraged to critically consider the manner in which market interventions can facilitate, boost or defuse youthful creativity. In this process, the facilitators also address the question of whether a student’s subculture can be regarded as an authentic form of cultural resistance or merely a marketing ploy for the creative industry.
Peculiarity of International Student subcultures
Contemporary institutions of higher learning and urban societies are primarily multicultural which comprises of many subcultures. Youth subcultural enclaves are ideal places where international students form identities. According to Ryan and Musiol, the best known scale of classification identifies them based on their personality as individuals or collectively when referring to their similarities. The main kinds of collective identities are based on the student’s social class/group, nationality, professionalism and culture. However, race is at times identified as a common category. All these identities are inter-related and inter-penetrative. Since identities refers to the meaning applied to them as a matter of innovation and convention, then, each human identity is therefore a social identity. Thus, in an infinite chain of socio-cultural communication, the identities are shaped, integrated and transformed. If a person’s identity is idiosyncratically variance to the cultural identity, then, it may reach the mainstream culture. In this instance, subcultural identity appears to single out the youngest form of identity for international students.
Depending to the student’s affiliation to style, the subcultures are different not only from the member’s components in the mainstream culture but also from within the subculture. International students are often in dilemma to choose from which subculture to associate with in terms of social, economic, cultural or professional identity. Without finding a common place for themselves in the mainstream culture, the students ten to get some affirmation from subcultural actors as the source of alternative reality. Due to this purpose, the actors shape their own independent styles to pursue this alternative identity thus opening up the space for the kinds of pleasure that the members deserve. Most international students come together because of their similar affinities to music, language idioms and slangs, hairstyles, fashion, dances, ornamentations and other trinkets.
Accordingly, the subcultures actors always announce their missions by claiming their disobedience and disagreement as they compete in a campaign against symbols. Once the members achieve the identity, the members affirm their individuality through gestures and create a reserve status with respect to their personal and social identity. No matter how diverse the identities are, they always have a common determinant i.e., they come to be through basic activities and understanding in their cultural and social context. These two contexts produce meaning that induce different types of behaviors that allows the individuals and groups to disturb the shaping of unique incomprehensible identities. The new subcultural context is shapes by singling out desirable objects and offering the chosen symbols that transform the prevalent meaning.
Latin- American Students
This subculture is also known as Hispanic American. As members of this group we are united by culture, religion, language and values. However, there is some extensive diversity on traits among us. One particular characteristic that is of paramount importance is most of Latin-American members is our family commitment. This entails loyalty through a strong support system and belief that our characters reflect on the honor of our family. There’s also great emphasis on our hierarchical order among the siblings and the roles assigned in caring for the family. This strong trait conflicts a lot with the mainstream culture that emphasis on individualism in the United States.
Indeed, as members of Hispanic subculture, we emphasize so much on group cooperation in attainment of goals and this is the reason of our regular discomposure with the United States conventional class competition. Spirituality and dignity of each individual and respect to authority is of paramount importance throughout our subculture. Commonly stereotyped sex roles exist among us where the males are perceived to be dominantly strong and females are perceived to be self-sacrificing and caring.
This kind of digest should help students to identify cultural values that should have a positive impact in their studies and which they would be readily accepted. For immigrant students, formation of identity and individualization can be problematic and a challenging task. This is because some subcultural values include strong cultural and family loyalties and allegiance that may conflict with their original believes and the mainstream culture. Thus, unsuspecting students have to be protected from negative transformation in the tendency of positivism. In some of these deviant subcultures, there is a deep-seated direction of negative thinking that most immigrant students have to realize are not amenable for them. Every youth has the right to choose what he/she wants in life independent to what subculture he/she adheres to. New followers find themselves in a difficult situation owing that one is required to be fully committed to the doctrines. This makes it hard for international students to cope with the rest and the process of social integration is affected. Due to such deviations from the norm, the international students are advised to take great caution when making a decision to participate in a particular subculture.