Dick Hebdige's 'Subculture: The Unnatural Break'

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In “Subculture: the Unnatural Break” (the sixth chapter from his book Subculture: the Meaning of Style), Dick Hebdige claims that subcultures represent a rupture between the processes that lead from reality to media representation, challenging therefore the codes of language and discourse and losing their disruptive power once they get assimilated. The reaction to the punk subculture in Great Britain in the seventies is used to prove Hebdige’s thesis. The idea of social order is identified with language and discourse. The codes that shape language are often violated by members of subcultures such as punk. The members of subcultures such as punk violate the codes that shape it. These violations are considered unnatural and they posses the…show more content…
This process of recuperation happens in two ways: by converting subcultural signs into mass-produced objects (the commodity form) and by labelling and re-defining deviant behavior by dominant groups (the ideological form). The commodity form benefits from the relationship between the spectacular subcultures and the industries, which is based on ambiguity and the difficulty to distinguish between commercial exploitation and originality, since consumption is an indispensable part of spectacular subcultures and they feed on production and publicity. However, this commercialization and mass production of cultural symbols takes their meaning away from the subculture and makes it available for everyone. On the other hand, the ideological form includes two different strategies to deal with the problems that sociologists encounter when they give too much importance to the way the media depicts subcultures. Treating The Other as a scandal that can threaten the existence of a person, it can either be trivialized, or transformed into something exotic; this transformations destroy the menace that they pose to society. Taking the example of punk subculture, it was both presented as a threat to the normative idea of family and safety, and portrayed as a family- friendly
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