The consideration of societal values and norms implies the discussion of cultural specificities distinguishing various categories of citizens. From this perspective, the patterns of people’s perceptions and their behavior differ depending on their belonging to one or another culture, which makes this subject essential for examining issues related to the population. Moreover, this notion is complemented by such concepts as subculture and counterculture, which expand the scope of problems covered by sociology and allow describing them in detail. Therefore, this paper aims to examine the terms culture, subculture, and counterculture to demonstrate their importance for sociological studies.
There are many interpretations of the word “culture” as it is used by scholars, and the consideration of its emergence through historical developments helps understand the scope of issues falling under it. Thus, the original intention of Comte, the inventor of this area of study, was to cover the gap between the industrial progress of the world and the corresponding “beliefs, attitudes, and forms of social organization” (Hammersley, 2019, p. 28). Subsequently, this idea was complemented by the concept of the collective conscience and thereby became connected to society as a whole (Hammersley, 2019). In this way, culture can be viewed as a set of norms and values attributed to various population groups and affecting their conduct.
The practical application of this term when attempting to describe the organization of people into categories is related to ordinary life and encompasses all the patterns of beliefs and behavior stemming from them. In this way, scholars manage to view appearing problems through the lens of cultural differences ascribed to one or another group (Hammersley, 2019). In turn, the resulting social differentiation reflects the complexity of present-day society. It describes both the knowledge varying depending on one’s culture and the products affected by it, such as art or music (Hammersley, 2019). Therefore, considering the above, this term can be perceived as a combination of characteristics defining the way of life of individuals and affecting their motivation as well as the outcomes of their activity.
The notion of culture is insufficient for the description of all the aspects of societal life. Therefore, it is accompanied by a subculture, which represents a more specific area of knowledge regarding the differences between the categories of citizens. This term is usually distinguished from the general culture and, therefore, oftentimes referred to as a minority style (UK Essays, 2018). The significance of this concept is in the fact that it addresses the needs of representatives of a particular culture neglected by it (UK Essays, 2018). In this way, subcultures are criticized for uniting people with a negative attitude towards life in their communities.
Moreover, their emergence is typical for crises when the majority style or culture is incapable of reflecting new values and interests of citizens (UK Essays, 2018). Therefore, it can be concluded that this phenomenon not only separates various population groups within society but also indicates the beginning of a difficult period. From this point of view, the enhanced tendency for the creation of subcultures can be an invaluable source of information for researchers attempting to make predictions on the development of humanity.
Another notion added to the concepts presented above is counterculture. In contrast to the emergence of values attributed to specific groups or sub-groups of citizens, it disregards the existing norms and develops the principles of non-conformism (UK Essays, 2018). One of the explicit examples of such an event is the case of Black urban musicians using their creativity and public expression to confront the London Metropolitan Police, whose actions they disapprove of (Fatsis, 2019).
In this way, this form of the cultural subdivision is one of the most aggressive types since it implies not only a shift in values but the presence of a conflict between different groups. It results from the fact that their perceptions do not match each other and, therefore, lead to open opposition. One of the most critical characteristics of counterculture is the problem with integration stemming from the specified circumstances (UK Essays, 2018). Nevertheless, the researchers still cannot agree on whether these cases should be viewed as the formation of separate categories of people or merely another subculture (UK Essays, 2018). Meanwhile, it is essential to reach it since counterculture might be problematic.
To summarize, the concepts of culture, subculture, and counterculture are used to describe the majority of processes occurring in present-day society. They reflect on the impact of differences attributed to various population groups on the effectiveness of their communication and the possibility of problems, allowing the researchers to predict them. Thus, culture is perceived as a combination of values and norms defining the attitudes and behavior of individuals within their communities.
It is complemented by subculture, which means the distinction of some people from other representatives of their cultural group. However, the main type of entity presenting the issues is counterculture, and it is sometimes confused with the previous term, whereas it implies confrontation. Its definition by specialists allows them to recommend measures to eliminate societal problems as it indicates the beginning of a crisis.
Fatsis, L. (2019). Grime: Criminal subculture or public counterculture? A critical investigation into the criminalization of Black musical subcultures in the UK. Crime, Media, Culture, 15(3), 447-461. Web.
Hammersley, M. (2019). The concept of culture: A history and reappraisal. Palgrave Pivot, Cham.
UK Essays. (2018). Comparison of subculture and countercultures. Web.