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Subculture: The Meaning of Style (1979) - Dick Hebdige

Related: 1979 - Dick Hebdige - Cultural Studies - meaning - style - subculture

Subculture: The Meaning of Style (1979) - Dick Hebdige [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

NO CULTURAL STUDIES BOOK has been more widely read than Dick Hebdige's 1979 Subculture: The Meaning of Style, from which this essay is taken. It brought a unique and supple blend of Althusser, Gramsci and semiotics (as propounded by Barthes and the "Prague School") to bear on the world of, or at any rate near to, the young British academics and students who first became immersed in cultural studies. That was the world of "subcultures" more visible in Britain than anywhere else: teds, skinheads, punks, Bowie-ites, hippies, dreads . . . --The Cultural Studies Reader. ed. Simon During, 2nd ed.. New York: Routledge, 1999. 441-50.


by Shawn Pitre

Course “Tendances dans l’étude de la musique populaire”, 07/12/03

Hebdige’s 1979 Subculture: The Meaning of Style is now considered a classic in several disciplines. Associated with Cultural Studies and the Birmingham school, Hebdige’s book has been widely read by popular music scholars, all manner of social scientists, and fans of punk music and style alike. His work is basically a study of working class youth in 1970s England juxtaposed to their parents’ generation as well as immigrants from former or soon-to-be independent colonies, in particular Jamaicans. Hebdige’s work was a result of the need to understand a growing number of visible subcultures in Britain. --http://www.mediamusicstudies.net/tagg/students/Montreal/Tendances/PitreHebdige.html

Collection of notes

Fwak Grab Bag

Subcultures [...]

The relationship between mainstream, "hegemonic" culture and the subcultures that split off from it mirrors the relationship of a linear, dominant narrative strain to the skein of other paths that could be pursued by the reader of hypertext. In other words, the way power is distributed in society relates to the way meaning is distributed in a hypertext narrative. In Subculture, The Meaning of Style, Dick Hebdige describes hegemony and the battle for subcultural meaning that resides beneath it:

"Maps of meaning [in society] are charged with a potentially explosive significance because they are traced and retraced along the lines laid down by the dominant discourses about reality, the dominant ideologies. Thus they tend to represent, in however obscure and contradictory a fashion, the interests of the dominant groups in society...

"The term hegemony refers to a situation in which a provisional alliance of certain social groups can exert total social authority over other subordinate groups, not simply by coercion or by the direct imposition of ruling ideas, but by winning and shaping consent so that the power of the dominant classes appears both legitimate and natural. Hegemony can only be maintained so long as the dominant classes succeed in framing all competing definitions within their range...

"The symbiosis in which ideology and the social order, production and reproduction, are linked is neither fixed nor guaranteed. It can be prised open. The consensus can be fractured, challenged, over-ruled, and resistance to the groups in dominance cannot always be lightly dismissed or automatically incorporated...

"The struggle between different discourses, different definitions and meanings within ideology is therefore always, at the same time, a struggle within signification: a struggle for possession of the sign which extends to even the most mundane areas of everyday life." - (A. G.) for feedmag.com

Rolling Stone Magazine review

"Complex and remarkably lucid, it's the first book dealing with punk to offer intellectual content. Hebdige is concerned with the UK's postwar, music-centred, white working-class subcultures, from teddy boys to mods and rockers to skinheads and punks.' --Rolling Stone Magazine

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