Flashcards in New Youth Cultures Deck (33):
What are the significant features of post-war youth cultures?
o Creation of youth as a category and lifestyle
- Recognised as a stage in the life-cycle and experience of new affluence promoted emergence of 'youth consumer'
o Stirred generational conflicts (moral panics) and consensus (spread of lifestyles)
o Influenced social and cultural change
- Development of youth culture promoted shift to more liberal social climate and greater individualism.
Who coined the term 'youth culture' and what does this mean?
o American sociologist, Talcott Parsons, conceived the phrase ‘youth culture’ to encompass a ‘distinct set of social structures inhabited by the young.’
Who explored the idea that can youth culture be considered as a social construct?
o Bill Osbergy in 'Youth in Britain since 1945'
- Notion of youth has been considered by many as a social construct – ‘a subjective set of cultural characteristics shaped by social, economic and political conditions of a particular historical context.’
Did youth cultures exist in the UK prior to WW2?
o Evidence to suggest that, ‘modern concepts of youth began to take shape during the 19th century’, according the historian John Gillis.
- Facilitated by establishment of an early form of a youth leisure market during the mid 19th century, promoting an increase of products and entertainments targeted towards the leisure pursuits of young people. (Bill Osbergy, Youth in Britain since 1945)
Did youth cultures exist in the Germany prior to WW2?
o According to Poiger Uta G in ‘Jazz, Rock, and Rebels: Cold War Politics and American Culture in a Divided Germany':
- Germany also exemplifies presence of youth culture preceding WW2.
- Distinctive styles of dress emerged among Germans, symbiotic of their identity – subject to criticism as men ‘who showed too much interest in fashion, were quickly criticised as unmanly’.
- German youth massively influenced by American culture during WW2 which can be traced back to the Weimar period (1919-1933) when ‘many Germans equated America with modernity’.
- Influence of America opposed by Nazis leading them to prohibit and censor US pop culture.
Is the interwar period significant to the development of youth culture?
o David Fowler argues in ‘Youth Culture in Modern Britain, c.1920-c.1970’ that youth gained visibility during the interwar period:
- Young people had more disposable income (WW1 created labour demand which granted youth with economic stability, fuelling development of commercial youth market); less pressure to contribute to household finances
- Expansion of general popular culture: cinema, dance halls, milk bars; popular literature
- Spread of American culture: music; fashions; film images
Which country effectively exemplifies the first real presence of a youth culture and youth as a distinct category?
Why is WW2 signifiant in the development of youth cultures?
o War provoked significant change economically, politically and culturally, marking a significant turning point in the development of youth culture across Europe.
- WWII ‘combined a range of factors to highlight the social ‘visibility’ of the young’. (Osgerby)
In general, how did WW2 impact youth economically in Britain?
o WW2 created more jobs in the UK like the US.
- Greater demand for unskilled/semi-skilled men and women in light assembly, distribution, retail, clerical and other service jobs.
- So, jobs available so easier to move and change.
- Youth wages lower than older but gap beginning to narrow.
How did the labour demand created by WW2 allow youth to experience a newfound affluence?
o Youth earning more income which they could spend on themselves i.e. they had more unprecedented disposable income than ever before esp. among working class youth who worked and still lived at home.
o Advertiser, Mark Abrams, in 1959 noted a rise of 50% in real earnings compared to pre-war whereas some studies show smaller gains.
- Abrams attributes this increase as the reason for allowing more discretionary spending: ‘for distinctive teenage ends in a distinctive teenage world’ mainly by working class youth.
- So, he highlights that the increased income of youth fuelled new behaviour, activities, aspirations and fashions.
How did the baby-boom influence the development of a more distinct youth culture?
o Growing number of teens between 1950-1970
- So, youth creating substantial amount of the population, propelling formation of distinct and visible youth cohorts.
How did changes in the education system also impact the development of youth culture?
o Education more available to youth
- 1944 Education Act: free secondary education
- 1947 School leaving age raised to 15 in England
- 1948 National Services Act: compulsory military service: two years for men from 18 (2 million served by 1960)
o Gave youth a time between school and work to do something different
o Idea of leaving school at 14 and going straight into workforce no longer enforced
o Rising ideal of creating space of time where you can think about career
o This created group of youth with common experience of being out of workforce for longer (i.e. through military or staying in education)
Why was German youth impacted so heavily by the influence of America after WW2?
o Influence of US culture intensified after war due to:
- Victory of Allies in war so they occupied Germany, opening its markets, facilitating an increased flow of US goods into Germany.
- Germany particularly vulnerable to US influence due to National Socialism and the impact of war, making it hard for East and West Germany to formulate own national identities.
- Influenced German economy, politics and culture – impacting youth of both East and West Germany.
In more specific terms, how were young German influenced by the US?
o US entertainment i.e. music and film provided archetypes of dress and behaviour for young Germans in decade following WW2.
- E.g. ‘The Wild One’ (1955), featuring Marlon Brando was prominent US film, subject to German criticism.
- It portrayed a fractious and turbulent youth culture, stirring judgement and fear over how such depictions of youth would influence German young people
- Styles of dress shown in film emulated by German youth: e.g. t-shirts, jeans and short jackets.
Was the influence of the US always welcomed by Germany?
o Hostility grew between youth and authorities which provoked riots carried out by young people
- Esp. in social spaces like concerts and movie showings (according to Uta G)
Was the changing role of youth welcomed by parents?
o Selina Todd and Hilary Young in ‘Baby Boomers to ‘Beanstockers’’:
o Many parents (esp. working class) encouraged newfound freedoms and affluence of their children.
- Prioritised children’s education and saw leisure as new opportunities for advancement and fun
- Baby-boom parents valuing family more than before – more emphasis on providing opportunities for kids
- Promoted by fact that women could more readily work part-time and contribute to family income so not as much need for income from their children.
What was a major influence as to why youth became an important target of the commercial markets?
o Suburbanisation (Klaus Nathaus)
- Uses this to highlight that all commercial leisure existed in cities e.g. cinemas and music halls so due to the shift to suburbs/council estates, these commercial spaces were losing audiences/markets i.e. experiencing a decline due to suburban growth.
- This led youth to be the most active consumers as they would go into cities to use these services leading them to become more visible as youth were main people out on the streets
What is an argument used to explain why youth adopted new fashions and behaviours?
o Nathaus suggests that fashions and behaviours derived as new ways of dealing with uncertainty/new social settings – new youth unable to look to parents as to how to behave in these new situations
o Suburbanisation caused many entertainment spaces initially targeted towards adult working-class to be inherited by the British youth – signified movement of youth into new environments where the appropriate behaviour had not yet been established so UK youth could no longer rely on ‘older behavioural scripts’.
What are some explanations for why youth began to formulate countercultures?
o ‘On the Road’ written by Jack Kerouac (1957) stresses the idea of breaking away from society/rejection of conformity – journey as a positive thing, drug taking valued as something that will put you in touch with more authentic feelings etc.
- Emphasis on free expression; authenticity and living in the present
Which particular counterculture/movement encompasses the ideas of Jack Kerouac?
- Emerged as an evolution of counterculture
- Embraced drug taking and other ways of expanding thought – extension of rejection of conformity
- Rejected capitalist, consumerist society
o Around 20,000 full-time hippies in the US and around a similar amount in Europe (according to Arthur Marwick)
o Sociologist, John Robert Howard, distinguished 4 types of hippies in 1969:
- visionaries (utopians posing an alternative society)
- freaks and heads (drug-oriented hippies)
- midnight hippies (older people who were sympathetic to hippie lifestyle)
- plastic hippies (saw hippie-ness as a fashion)
What argument does sociologist, Stanley Cohen, propose for why WW2 propelled the development of new youth culture?
o Believed emergence of more prominent youth can be attributed to disruption that war caused.
- Argues that working class communities had been disrupted by war (bombings, urban renewal, rehousing etc.) so for Cohen young people were growing up in weakened community – they are a group trying to establish an identity in a changing world
- Emphasises increasing desire of youth for agency/autonomy.
What was British academic, Richard Hoffart, so critical of?
o Youth culture and 'Americanisation' - the action of making a person or thing American in character or nationality.
o Argued communities had been destroyed and culture of pre-war communities had been lost and was replaced by mass/commercial culture derived from America.
- Believed this completely distorted working class culture making it more insincere and artificial so very negative view.
How did the media portray youth negatively?
o Youth as 'trouble' perpetuated by much of media.
- Too disruptive
- Challenge to prevailing social norms.
o From the 1950s-early 60s; ‘British teenager was presented as a symbol of generational rebellion in the popular press, social investigations, and much political debate.’ (Todd and Young)
- Reinforces criticism, often driven by anxiety and fear, dominated much of UK media.
- Americanisation, increased crime and the newfound economic independence of young people were all considered as threats to traditional British culture and values.
How did the media portray youth positively?
o Produced in 1940, the Daily Mirror’s ‘Youth Plans Its Tomorrow’:
- Communicated that the challenges of war actually highlighted the strength of British young people.
What kind of criticism circulated concerning youth in Germany?
o Existed in both East & West Germany.
o Fears derived from notions that American culture would corrupt German adolescents and destroy German cultural heritage
- Mass consumerism and overconsumption were also criticised by German authorities
Did East and West Germay remain negative about youth?
o East Germany maintained the perspective that Americanisation was a major threat far longer than the West.
o By late 1950s, West German attitudes changed, increasingly accommodating the consumption of American culture.
o Esp. among young Germans themselves, US popular culture represented freedom from the bounds of the family home, granting them a way to express their individuality and communicate their rejection of the traditional German establishment and society.
Give an example of a specific youth group?
o The Teddy Boys
- First distinct youth subculture (London 1952)
- Figure became popularised in the 1940s but increased in prominence during post-war years
- Working class urban men
- According to scholars from Centre of Contemporary Cultural Studies, they embodied a ‘cultural response to the decline of a traditional working-class.’
What fashions did Teddy Boys incorporate?
o Name comes from style of dress (Edwardian-style jacket; waistcoat; drainpipe trousers; crepe-soled shoes)
o Cohen would view this as positive as they were creating their own identity in the world
o Creative consumers in fashion sense and don’t follow fashion trends
In what ways and why were Teddy Boys subject to criticism?
o Challenged social order
o Media responsible for propagating and perpetuating criminal stereotypes of Teddy Boy
- Became synonymous with juvenile delinquency
- Established a reputation for trouble – seen as aggressive and sexually provocative
- Links to violence and criminality
- Involvement in 1958 racial attacks in London
Give an example which shows that girls equally expressed a desire for change.
o Judy Walker from Coventry expresses her view of her parents’ lives:
- ‘I have a fear of doing the same thing all the time and everything being boring…go to work and they come [home], have their dinner, they sit down and have five minutes, they’d have a wash and shave and go down the club, go down the pub, Saturday, Sunday dinner, same thing, go on holiday once a year … [I]t was the sameness of everything.’
- So, she clearly communicates a fear of repeating the life of her parents.
What countercultures were young girls involved in?
o Subcultures usually male though some Teddy Girls
- Generally, subcultures stressed male youth cultures
- But, girls were present in coffee clubs, cinemas, dance halls etc.
Why are females less spoken about in the emergence of a more distinct young culture post-war?
o Feminine culture less studied
- Centred on fashion, romance and the creation of teenage femininity