605.6 Deviant or distinctive subcultures? Translocal subcultural trends in Eastern European context

Friday, August 3, 2012: 12:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Distributed Paper
Airi-Alina ALLASTE , Centre for Lifestyles Studies, IISS, Tallinn University, Tallinn, Estonia
Youth subcultures are often considered deviant and associated with violent behaviour. The latter is especially the case in Eastern Europe, where the society is not used to pluralities of lifestyles and differences are often demonised. While in today’s Western world various youth lifestyles tend to be seen as consumer networks with varying style preferences, in Estonia they are more often associated with rebellion, acts of vandalism, violent rituals, etc. by the wider public.

This paper investigates the reasons behind the negative images of subcultures and explains it through deviant origins of subcultural trends. The paper focuses on the changes that translocal subcultural trends undergo when diffused to a new society and on the meanings attached by young people to their participation in global subcultures using the case of Estonia.  The empirical part of the paper is based on open-ended interviews and results of participant observation of three subcultures (hip-hop, metal, bikers) conducted in Estonia in 2008.

The analyses show how contemporary subcultural trends have departed from their original norms and values and how the symbols and meanings within subcultural trends have changed. However, it is possible to interpret the same symbols differently, which might be the cause of the negative image for the wider society.