New media technologies and the global exchange of goods have really led to sense of transformation on the opportunities for individual identity signalling. This is to say that previously physical or hidden distant populations are nor possibly viewed through the search engines, and images of the popular culture of the American people are now being exported to far reaching corners of both the developing and developed nations around the globe. In spite of the significant social change, still familiar patterns of identity signalling persist and these patterns raise various questions in regards to the manner in which cultures develop and evolve in a more complicated social landscape. In this paper, we use the hipster subculture to examine the role of taste and consumption in enabling subgroups to maintain social distinction and internal cohesion. Generally, the way of life has greatly changed ranging from the mode of dressing to the kind of foods we eat. With advancement of science and technology people have also adopted new ways of lifestyle that seems to be more civilized and acceptable in the society. However, it is evident enough that human beings do not live in a vacuum but live within a society which formulates the moral codes and values to govern the process of socialization and interaction of its members. This in turn means that culture which can be defined with the way of life of people plays an integral part in maintaining the status quo as well the cohesiveness of the people in any given community.
However, with the introduction of computers and internet in the recent past, culture which is one of the main facet of human existence has been affected to a greater extend hence changing people’s lifestyle with a high magnitude. Through the internet the world has turned out to be global village where people from distant place can freely share information and ideas and other materials with their colleges. This in turn has lead to adoption of westernized culture to all parts of the world which in essence is perceived to be more civilized and acceptable way of living in the 21st century. Culture is a socially constructed concept which mainly depends on the changes taking place in the environment. The meaning which is also attached to any culture is interpreted in the context of the prevailing situation in the society. This in turn means that culture influences the people’s way of life whereas on the other hand, society influence applicability of a culture. The two components complement each other but in different proportions.
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It is in respect to emergence of changes in the society which have lead to establishment of new subcultures that we wish to discuss the hipster culture in a comprehensive manner. This paper also provides an analysis as well as evaluates the influence of capitalism and consumerism in addressing this critical issue in the society.
One of the subculture that has raised a heated debate for the last few decades is the issue of hipster culture. This kind of culture cuts across people from all walks of life but is more prevalent among the youths below the age of thirty years who lives in metropolitan areas. The term hipster is not a new word because it has been in existence since the early 1940s. It was initially associated with middle class white youths who imitated the black musician during the jazz age. Over time the culture has been growing at an alarming rate that it has attained high influence in the society today. It has immensely contributed to the changed in mode of lifestyle among our youths ranging from speaking, dressing, socializing and interacting, just to mention but a few. Atherton also affirms that “hipster is a subculture or a consumer group that uses their money to buy empty authenticity and rebellion.
Another factor that has greatly influenced the growth of this culture is the advancement of science and technology. Through the internet many youths in all parts of the have access to information pertaining to this new way of lifestyle by logging in specific web sites which have vast volume of information relating to hipster culture. The same information can be accessed through other means such as the media which in turn plays a key role in disseminating the information to the public. More and more youths are being recruited in this culture day after day hence making this culture to spread like a bush fur during the dry season. Hipster culture holds various dimensions which in essence has made it difficult to critical analysis the issue comprehensively. However, the key factor which different hipster cultures from other cultures is the fact that it has unique mode of lifestyle among its members. The youths who hold quite a good percentage in this category have devised new dressing codes which are gender based in the society.
From time immemorial man has been striving hard to better his life through innovation and invention. In the process many fashions designs in terms of clothing and dressing codes have been changing over time until now. Not only has the dressing code changed but also the kind of music and dance young people do listen today. It is a culture which integrates every aspect of innovation and invention that has been taking place from time immemorial to toady. It can be viewed as a culture which has no more progress in terms of innovation and advancement in the sense that it only relies on adoption of various cultural components and incorporating them with the current times. It is a fabricated subculture which lack authenticity in its works of innovation and invention. This in turn makes the members to be very unique from other members as well as portraying them to be like loose moral characters in the society.
The mode of dressing is one key concept which differentiates this category of people to a large extend. Boys mainly like dressing in t-shirts, skinny jeans, cow boy hats and old school shoes. Such fitting makes them to look so different from other hence drawing attention to them (Thompson, Elise 2008). At the same time the kind of music they do listen to has real changed over time. In most celebration parties, clubs and discos the kind of music that is being played in these plays is in form of mix. This kind of music takes into account all types songs which at one point in time rocked in the music arena.
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One the other hand, girls also dress differently today as compared to old days. It is no longer fashionable for a girl to dress in a dress and blouse. New fashions and designs are available in the market ranging from miniskirts to leggings. Most of the girls who are hipster dress in skinny jeans, leggings and flash eye glasses which help in enhancing the hipster culture in them. They also make their hair using varied hair styles in the market. Boys most of them tend to plait their hair or shave using different haircuts.
However, any action taken or executed by an individual bears a reason behind it. Therefore, we wish to address the causal factor of this kind of culture in the society. With respect to this it is evident enough that the great growth and widespread of hipster culture bears its roots on the society. In this case there are two fundamental reasons which are responsible for the emergence of this particular culture namely; capitalism and consumerism (Smith, Robert 2010).
Capitalism as a factor mainly places more emphasis on the economic status of the individuals in the society. James Brassett, affirms that, “many young people from middle and upper high class levels involve themselves in this culture with the aim of fabricating their image and recognition in the society. Since they hold a lower stratum in the social economic status in the society they employ such mechanism so as to boost their self worth in the entire community (228).”
On the contrary, consumerism places more emphasis on the social status that one holds in the society. It is mainly based on what the societies feels is cool and to what extent the society supports it. When an individual adopts hipster culture and he or she is given positive reinforcement from the society, such behaviour would be encouraged in the community thus making other people to adopt it. It gives them a sense of belonging, recognition and positive regards from other members of the group. On the other hand, if there is no positive reinforcement in terms of reward then the behaviour would not be encouraged. Consequently, the two main factors complement each other to a greater extend in addressing the issue under discussion.
The whole issue of hipster culture revolve around the theme of identity. Culture is one vital factor that helps in distinguishing as well as providing a ground of indentifying an individual (Mark Grief, 2010). Through the adoption of hipster culture one tries to secure a position within a certain group where he or she can be distinguished from other people in the group. The youths dress and indulge in funny activities with the aim of making them be recognized and appreciated in the society. They aim at drawing attention from the public.
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The other facet of hipster culture is all about individuality. Hipsters try to outdo each other by placing strategic plans in place which in turn helps in building the concept of individuality in the group. Every member wants to be perceived as being unique from other group members through the way of dressing to the way he or she interacts with other people. The more distinct one is from the others the high the positive regards from the entire society. With the stiff competition one is supposed to remain at all times creative, innovative as well as being acquitted with current issue relating to technological advancement (James Brassett, pp. 236). On the other hand, every culture has its own rules and regulations imposed on its members. This means that every group member is obliged to conform to such norms and values if he or she wishes to be acknowledged as a member of that group.
Moreover, Zizek in his article also affirms that “Hipster and the manner at which people view it can only be seen as a manifestations of the “sinthome” which is the fourth order in Lacan’s model of the Borromean knot; a cycle of three rings that will be entirely severed if any one ring is severed thus ensuing in lunacy. He further describes symptom as that ring that must come into subsistence when the knot itself is threatened. And finally he also ascertains that Hipster is that place where the actual, the fantasy and the figurative merge into one. Conversely, Atherton also in his magazine refers to us as a lost generation that dreadfully adhere to anything that feels real, but too frightened to become it ourselves. He also refers individuals as the generation that is still behind which basically resigned to the two-facedness of those ahead of us. He thus considers us as the last generation and he also provides the description of human beings as a culmination of all previous things. He finally ascertains that the hipster represents the end of Western civilization which is a culture that is so disengaged and has not been interested in producing new things.
In conclusion culture is a very important aspect in maintaining the status quo in the society but it depends with how well it is incorporated in the entire system. With the emergence of hipster culture it helps in enhancing identity and individualism in the society. It also helps encourage creativity and innovation among the youths thus inculcating the same culture to the next generation. The draw backs which come along with adoption of hipster culture are fur less significant in relation to the merits. The hipster culture if well harnessed can be of great benefit in fostering economic, political and social development in the nation.