Subculture Examples From the Past Century

Updated March 4, 2021
Goth girl
    Goth girl
    LTK subscription agreement

Culture has the ability to define a group of people. That includes things like language, cuisine, ideologies, religious beliefs, and more. Culture tends to point to large groups of people within a certain geographical area.

A subculture is a group within a culture that differs from the general consensus. They have a unique set of beliefs and values that don’t necessarily align with the wider culture. Explore some subculture examples, from beatniks to bodybuilders, and get a clear idea of what small groups of nonconformists look like.

Historic Subcultures

Certain subcultures have survived for decades. They make for an interesting study in sociology. Here are a few groups of people who’ve stood the test of time:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous - a fellowship for recovering alcoholics. Members gather to discuss common struggles related to addiction. Together, they seek a Higher Power who can lead them down a pathway to recovery.
  • Beatnik - a term coined by Jack Kerouac that refers to a movement in the 1950s and 60s that clung to pseudo-intellectualism, drug use, and spiritual freedom
  • Bikers - people interested in motorcycles who often form groups that travel together
  • Fandom - fans of movies, a celebrity, or any shared interest
  • Freak scene - a subculture that started in the late 1960s with some hippie and punk elements
  • LGBT - an increasingly less-marginalized community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people
  • Military Brats - children of parents in the armed forces who move around the world a lot
  • Pachuco/Pachuca - Hispanic and Latino men and women known for flamboyant dress and behavior
  • Rockabilly - rock-n-roll music incorporating country music and rhythm and blues
  • Skinhead - early skinheads were not politically involved. However, this subculture has evolved to include those who are racially motivated, as in white power.
  • Survivalists - people who actively prepare for major, large-scale disasters
  • Zazou - a French subculture during World War II characterized by flashy clothing, and bebop and swing dance

Modern Subcultures

You don’t have to go far today to enjoy the company of a nonconformist. How many people did you see sporting rainbow-colored hair in the 1950s? Not many. Nowadays, people are expressing themselves in any number of ways. See if any of these modern subcultures catch your eye:

  • Afrofuturism - a future seen through an African-American lens, encompassing the arts, science, and technology
  • Bodybuilding - using certain exercises to train the body into a highly sculpted, muscular form
  • Cosplay - a group involved in full immersion into a fictional character
  • Cybergoth - a mix of goth and rave culture with energetic music and bright, futuristic clothing
  • Demoscene - a group of people who produce demos for play on a computer
  • Emo - short for “emotional,” a movement directed at fans of emotional, expressive hardcore punk rock
  • Gaming - a group of people who enjoy playing video games, either individually, with friends, or through a virtual platform
  • Goth - people who find beauty in things others might find dark, including clothing and attire, decor, and more
  • Grunge - started in Seattle, fans of alternative rock that gained prominence in the 1990s
  • Hip hop - started in South Bronx in the 70s, a group of people who enjoy break dancing, graffiti, DJs combining songs and rap, and other artistic expressions
  • Hipsters - a merging of many identities, including retro styles, skinny jeans, artistic movements, urban living, and more
  • Hypebeast - a genre of fashion-lovers with a particular affinity for street fashion and collector items
  • Internet Subculture - a lifestyle that revolves around online connectivity, including gaming, memes, cosplay, dating, chat groups, social media, and more.
  • Metalcore - a genre of music that fuses extreme metal and hardcore punk
  • New Age - a spiritual and metaphysical movement including holistic health and parapsychology
  • Otaku - people obsessed with anime and manga
  • Rave Scene - characterized by wild parties with loud music and possibly light or laser shows
  • Rivethead - a group started in the 1980s with people who favor industrial dance music
  • Skater - a movement of teens and adults who enjoy skateboarding
  • Straight Edge - people who are drawn to the punk rock scene, but don’t engage in drugs and heavy drinking
  • Trekkie - fans of the Star Trek franchise who enjoy the movies, attend festivals, and share their enthusiasm for a sci-fi existence

Subculture Submersion

Subcultures are a great way to unite people in their common interests. People join together to celebrate their passions and learn more about their preferred way of living. Are you a member of any of the above subcultures? What’s your preferred outlet for self-expression? Is it art? Or how about creative writing?

If you’re looking to bring art to life in the form of a short story, check out Get Creative: How to Write a Short Story. You can use the artistic blueprint found in that article to bring any subcultural to life in a way that encourages others to join the movement. Now that you understand subculture, discover some examples of counterculture.