Subculture and Counterculture
Added On : 16 Sep 2022
Category : Social,

In addition to cultures, every society also has a variety of subcultures and countercultures that emerge. Generalizations, occupation, class, lifestyle, likes, dislikes, and other factors all contribute to the formation of subcultures and countercultures. 

A subculture is a group of people who set themselves apart from the larger culture to which they belong. A contrast between an acceptable majority style and a "subculture" as an active minority style existed in the early 1950s. A subculture, according to Dick Hebdige, is a transgression of normality. Subcultures frequently have a bad reputation and a critical mindset. Subcultures unite people who feel ignored and give them a place to find their identities.

The sociological word "counterculture" defines a cultural group's values and behavioral standards. Another way to define counterculture is as a group whose actions differ from the accepted norm. Although there have been distinct countercultural undercurrents in many societies, the term "counterculture" in this context refers to a more significant, obvious phenomenon that reaches critical mass and lasts for a while. It's crucial to understand the difference between "counterculture" and "subculture".

A subculture is a group of people who do have some characteristics in common with the bulk of society, but the group also has its own set of values, beliefs, customs, behaviors, etc. Subcultures frequently emerge when a society faces challenges or enjoys shared perks. A subculture typically consists of people who share similar values and interests.

There are various subcultures and the main categories of the subculture are listed below: 

  • Corporate Culture: A specific subculture enables its members to form bonds of camaraderie, a sense of belonging, and social ties that have an impact on behavior. It has to do with how a company handles the environment.
  • Counterculture: It is a certain subculture that entirely rejects societal norms and ideals in favor of establishing its own. They frequently arise when individuals refuse to follow the norm. 
  • Nationality or Racial Subcultures: These subcultures have varying values, goals, and beliefs, which are reflected in their consumption priorities, spend-saving habits, buying tendencies, credit-use habits, social traditions, and rituals, among other things. Today's multiracial cultures, like America, are made up of people from several ethnic or national backgrounds.
  • Subcultures of Religion: People who practice different religions make up the majority of societies in the world today. These people may have distinct beliefs, values, and rituals. The religious groupings may observe various customs, perform significant rites of passage (such as birth, marriage, and death) in various ways, and celebrate various holidays.

Subculture versus Counterculture- 

  • Counterculture can be known as the norm that is not generally accepted by society or people in general as it opposes their mainstream ideas of “social norm”. 
  • In terms of politics, social structures, norms, and social ideas, it differs from mainstream culture.
  • Another definition of Counterculture can be a culture that is generally one that goes against the mainstream culture and challenges an established culture.
  • The suffragettes, the green movement, polygamists, feminists, punks, and the notorious hippie counterculture movement of the 1960s are just a few examples of countercultures that have developed throughout the past century in opposition to the dominant society. 
  • These countercultures are all characterized by particular values and ideas that influence social transformation. Large movements known as countercultures affect social change.
  • Mainstream culture is opposed by countercultures. The desire to oppose movements within the larger, dominant culture brings together members of a counterculture. Members may not share the same socioeconomic circumstances, values, or political beliefs despite having the same opposition in common.
  • Countercultures can be harmful or beneficial. Like all subcultures, they have the potential to grow when more people join them and assimilate into the mainstream. Drug addicts, professional criminals, inmates, terrorists, biker gangs—all of these groups are perceived negatively by society and belong to countercultures.

What is a Subculture? 

A subculture is a subset of a larger culture that a minority of people share and actively engage in. Although their ideas or way of life may be distinctive enough to make them stand out, they do not oppose society.

Examples of subcultures include Goths, emos, surfers, and homies, among others. Subcultures exist in the United States; two examples are Jews and Tea Party supporters. The Tea Party movement was primarily established around discontent with the political status quo, in contrast to the Jewish subculture, which is based on shared religious principles.

Subcultures frequently have shared experiences and interests. Within a mainstream culture, there may be subcultures. Subcultural similarities in aesthetics, interests, and experiences bind them together. Subcultures are different sectors of a society or region's broader culture that are distinguished by similar socioeconomic levels, membership in a particular ethnic or religious group, or interests in music or other cultural phenomena.

Characteristics of Subcultures

  • Subcultures draw heavily on the larger cultures of which they are a part, yet they may diverge drastically in some areas. Others coexist peacefully within the dominant culture of society, while some subcultures exist in opposition to it.
  • Subcultures unite like-minded people who feel left out by societal norms and give them a place to find their identity.
  • Age, ethnicity, class, location, and/or gender of members can make a subculture stand out. 
  • A subculture can be distinguished by linguistic, aesthetic, religious, political, sexual, geographical, or a mix of these characteristics.
  • They undoubtedly have a significant impact on each person's life and shed light on the process by which each person creates a frame of reference. 
  • Each person has a unique perspective on society, values, and life in general. Cultures that are prevalent in a person's life often influence their values, attitudes, actions, and sanctions.
  • Many subcultures have emerged inside the dominant culture that a person spends his or her time learning and evolving through diverse encounters.
  • Subcultures enable people with comparable interests a chance to socialize, assimilate, and feel a feeling of community among their peers.



  • Subcultures and countercultures both define themselves in opposition to a society's prevailing culture
  • Members of a society are typically identified by their distinctive features and typically dress and conduct differently than normal individuals.


  • Subcultures are mixed together to form culture. A single subculture is thus a little portion of the greater culture, which is typically identified by a similar socioeconomic condition or a shared interest in a certain field of culture.
  • On the other side, a counterculture is identified by its opposition to the prevailing culture. A counterculture member could disagree with the values of the dominant culture. Or it could just be opposed to specific subcultures or cultural strands.
  • A counterculture is in opposition to the culture or subculture itself, whereas a subculture varies slightly from the dominant culture in a society.
Conclusion - 

There are a number of factors, including the fact that some changes were the result of a series of events that occurred throughout the century, other changes were brought about by scientific advancements, which have always resulted in new ideas and perspectives on the world, and many changes are better characterized as movements or ideologies, the term "counterculture" is not entirely adequate to describe all of the changes that occurred.

Subcultures enable people with comparable interests a chance to socialize, assimilate, and feel a feeling of community among their peers.

In order to explore the organization and creation of relational, material, and symbolic structures and systems, subcultural studies frequently employ participant observation and may focus on sociological, anthropological, or semiotic study, among other things.