1.3. Post Subculture Studies

15 June 2021

Haenfler draws attention to a shift from the classic underground subcultures: skinhead, punk, and metal to shallow versions such as ‘grunge’ scenes that did not reflect the resistant subcultures of the past. As well as this, he points to a resurgence of dance cultures such as ‘Rave’. The connecting similarities in social class, gender and race cannot be said to have been what bonded ‘Rave’ together even though the origins of ‘Rave’ stem from the subculture of ‘House music', which arose in the solidarity of an oppressed demographic. With such a diverse gathering of people assembled at ‘Raves', it was not possible for there to be a definite “uniform” that would unite such people. The different types of ‘Raves’ that popped up across the UK between 1988-1989 spawned DIY ethic communities that organised the events. ‘Raves’ seemed diffuse when compared to subcultures of the past like mods or punks. Haenfler refers to these post-subcultures as scenes and neo-tribes and suggests that they appeared “ […]’ amid fragmented culture in which identity becomes unhitched from family, geography, and tradition”  (2014, p. 10). Moreover, he points towards how the youth generation from all strata and milieus shopped and created their identities by mixing different fashions and styles. ‘Ravers' did not unite by a “rave “uniform” (Heanfler, 2014, p. 10), they united in a sensation of togetherness, a neo-tribal experience ‘Rave’ facilitated, an experience that Gareth Wynne describes as:

We no longer live in a society, which is bent on maintaining uniformity instead our lives are like the symbolic representation of dance music, relying on the ability to reconstruct patterns of change, which celebrate otherness and diversity. […] then it is no longer possible to speak of the individual or the self as a coherent unity, but instead, we must understand that we are made up from, and live our lives as a mass of contradictory fragments. 

(2000, p. 31)

As well as pointing to the type of experience ‘Rave’ facilitates, Wynne goes further than Haenfler and suggests that not only is society fragmented, but the individuals inside the fragmented society are also fragmented. By considering the shift in the acute perception of the modernist, who believes in the truthful foundation of self-developing structures. A postmodernist ideology is located and possibly felt with a sceptical view of the foundation in which those structures are put in action. In experiencing this shift from an acute perception to an obtuse perception of postmodernism, sensitive awareness of an individual sense of truth is employed. In the 1990s, greater freedom to create and manifest what one believed drastically changed the meaning of subcultures. Cultural sociologist and author Andy Bennett describes subcultures as neo-tribes comprising a diffuse collection of diverse people that gather intermittently. The primary reason is to have a good time while sharing in their collective identity (1999). Haenfler suggests that “This notion, [neo-tribe], seems to perfectly capture rave and other dance cultures’ — people gather, but do not share much in the way of an underlying identity of ideology” (2014, p. 4). Moreover, Wynne suggests that due to the diffuse diverse nature of a fragmented generation in a fragmented society, dance culture environments became the healing solution to this troubling cultural sensation. He states: “It is, therefore, dance culture’s endeavour to bring all these fragments together, enmeshing them in a cultural space which the clubber can call his or her own” (2000, p. 31). Post subculture studies by the 1990s reveal that subculture is about the necessity for a neo-tribal collective experience that spans across a wide demographic base and facilitates the sharing of activity among eclectic groups of people that do not share an underlying identity. However, incoming together in neo-tribe events such as ‘Rave’ find a sense of unity in individual perception.

1.4 Subculture Phenomena