Culture and Subculture in Sociology

The turn of the 21st century is still remembered as a transformative period in history characterized by numerous innovative ideas with far-reaching consequences. These nascent changes permeated various domains of life, including academia, and led to the expansion of pioneering fields such as sociology. At the core of this discipline was a comprehensive evaluation of society, social interaction, and culture to provide researchers with a clear understanding of prevailing social structure and imminent social change. In recent years, sociology pundits such as Gert Hofstede have drawn attention to specific defining attributes of culture and subculture. It is now generally accepted that culture and subculture play a central role is shaping individuals in society and even going as far as serving as an external influence when reviewing consumer behavior.

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Putting culture and subculture into perspective

            Culture and subculture are fundamental parts of sociology. Culture amalgamates the entire sophisticated whole which includes a people’s customs, morals, sensibilities, beliefs, and knowledge (Kendall, 2015). It is worth noting that culture is a complex system of independent components interacting within a set of special circumstance. Furthermore, a society’s beliefs and knowledge play a major role in shaping it and defining its trajectory. An ideal example is the pervasive belief in the United States that hard work is the only path to success. While this may be true within the American context, the Chinese have been known to attribute success to luck since they regard themselves as being at the center of the universe. Culture is also responsible for the creation of elaborate art as a major issue relevant to major societies globally. Art is displayed through seemingly mundane practices such donning traditional headscarves, turbans, or ties.  Additionally, art is closely tied to morality which varies greatly from one society to the next. Countries such as the United States, Japan, China, and Saudi Arabia have clear moral standards which they expect each member to adhere to before being fully accepted.

            A subculture, on the other hand, is the emergence of a new way of life among individuals within a broader culture. It includes large segments of the broader culture where it is from but with defining characteristics which are starkly dissimilar. Today, subcultures are associated with popular music and clothing as major symbolic elements linking individuals to a specific subgroup.  These symbols are particularly important to sociologists since they can use them to determine their interpretation among individuals from the dominant culture. Prospective entrepreneurs are now acutely aware of the influence of subcultures on society. Some even capitalize on this relatively contemporary phenomenon through cultural appropriation to portray a “cool” allure when marketing. Subcultures are common elements within cultures are typically numerous. They create a congregation of like-minded persons living in the fringes of society who ultimately create their own sense of identity. Furthermore, subcultures and symbolism go hand in hand.  Clothing and music are often used as defining principle within subcultures when aspiring for status and recognition within a larger complex societal framework. 

Approaching culture and subculture within contemporary society

            Culture and subculture have emerged as major elements within contemporary society. Culture is often denoted by its ability to be comprehensive, where all tenets can be joined and expressed in a logical manner. It is also learned over an extensive period as opposed to exiting innately within individuals while also involving complex mechanics of learning. Culture is also informed by clear delimitations and boundaries which go a long way in determining the bounds of acceptable behavior. Failure to adhere to these limits and prescribed norms often results in harsh sanctions and criticism. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that individuals’ conscious awareness of any of the cultural standards that are upheld within a given society is often limited.. The continuum in which cultures are contained and maintained may either be dynamic or static based on society’s pliability and their acceptance of change. Subcultures such as Star Trek Fans and bikers have also come to be accepted as a section of modern society (Baker & Robards, 2016, p. 89). Membership to known subcultures often requires individuals to adhere to a specific fashion, consumer product, or mannerisms. Identifying subcultures is a difficult task often due to their interconnectedness within a society. However, it is now possible to identify subcultures through telltale signs which are sometimes linked to cultural appropriation.  In almost all cases, cultural subcultures are display negative relations to work. Individuals within the overall framework of any functioning subculture also generally have a negative attitude towards class. Association is purely based on the territory they are from rather than on the basis of property ownership. Additionally, social groups are a major part of subcultures through which stylistic ties are displayed the aim of displaying their refusal to lead bland ordinary lives.

            In recent years, marketers have displayed a growing interest in sociology and various issues surrounding culture.  One of the main objectives of this approach is to remain cognizant of the sensibilities of individuals residing in far-flung localities across the globe. This averts the possibility of violating cultural norms, which then assures them of compatibility. Observing culture and subculture in sociology should always be approached methodically. This reduces the chances of overgeneralizing traits which may be observed during any routine study since stereotyping is a common challenge. Culture and subculture in sociology are also used to paint the larger picture in society while still serving as a continuum. Leading Dutch researcher, Gert Hofstede was also keen on expounding on culture and subculture, in addition to key dimensions which can be use appropriately for the purpose of identification. He identified individualism vs. collectivism, power distance, masculinity vs. femininity, and uncertainty avoidance as major dimension to consider when assessing culture and subculture (Brake, 2013). Self-reference and ethnocentrism is particularly common in many of the cultures and subcultures which are currently pervasive globally. For instance, individuals brought up within an American context have been known to view conservative societies as backward for their failure to embrace modern conveniences. Such sentiments are also common within subcultures where ethnocentrism takes center stage by viewing ones point of reference as superior in comparison to others.  Moreover, it is important to acknowledge that language also plays a central role in many cultures and subcultures. Subtle differences in the use of specific phrases, idioms, neologisms, and slang now play a major role in enabling sociologist to ascertain the scope and influence of a specific culture.

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Culture and subculture are now considered as some of the most notable elements in sociology. Understanding sensibilities, beliefs, knowledge, and the development subcultures now allows researchers to track progress and societal change. It is through this methodical structure that society can be evaluated and the impact of various key rudiments.

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