WJEC/Eduqas Sociology for AS & Year 1: Student Bk

Topic 10: Youth cultures and ethnicity Youth cultures Getting you thinking Dreadlocks form when the hair is left without brushing or cutting. In many cultures, including West Indian societies, dreadlocks have deep spiritual significance. Why might Western young people adopt the style? What messages are they sending to others by adopting this look? How might African Caribbeans view this adoption of their style? Formation of ethnic minority youth cultures Cohen and early sociologists of youth cultures suggested that gangs and cultures were formed by young males who lacked social status. He called this feeling status frustration. The antisocial behaviour of young men was a direct attempt to gain status within the gang in response to lack of status in society. Thus, early sociologists could argue that Black subcultures in the USA and in Britain were a response to lack of social status. The problem for Black youths in Britain was far more than just status frustration. Clarke (1976) described early skinhead subcultures as violent, overly aggressive and both racist and homophobic. They were associated with unpleasant hate crimes which they described as ‘queer-bashing’ and ‘paki-bashing’. Curiously, they were doing this while listening to Black popular music. It could be argued that these violent behaviours were just extreme manifestations of public attitudes among some sectors of mainstream society. Hall (1978) pointed out that Black young people were being presented as a menace to society and as muggers in the popular press. The CCCS claimed that a more complex process was taking place. In 1966, Downes suggested that immigrant subcultures have to develop behaviours and a culture that have meaning and symbolism which are different from those of the culture around them. Hebdige said that all youth cultures developed as a form of resistance to dominant ideology and mainstream capitalist culture. He saw clothing and youth style as a symbolic form of resistance. The Black street culture that developed in Britain in the 1960s was a response to their specific problems of racism, discrimination and unemployment. He argued that the young African Caribbean men who felt excluded from dominant white culture, took an African centred identity based on Rastafarianism, a religious belief centred on the return of ex-slave cultures to Africa. Their dreadlocks were an important symbol of allegiance to Rastafari and a rejection of white capitalism because they are a reflection of African appearance and style. Aims  To understand that there have always been serious issues of racism in British youth culture, whilst at the same time, young people have been drawn to Black music and borrowed from their street styles. However, the first large groups of Black migrants arrived in the late 1940s and early 1950s, often from African Caribbean areas such as Jamaica. They moved into working-class areas of cities at the same time as large-scale youth cultures began to develop. White working- class youth were attracted to the styles and the music of Black culture, but they also felt threatened by the new migrants in terms of jobs and competition for housing. Migrants, who had been hoping for opportunities, experienced rejection, overt racism and prejudice. Their children, who had been born in Britain, developed cultural patterns based on resisting racism, only to see their cultural forms being adopted by white youth as evidence of ‘cool’, whilst at the same time, they were being rejected by those same youth cultures. 166