Hipsters- A Sub And Counter Culture

By: McKenzie

In modern culture today, hipsters are considered a subculture within the greater part of society. There are certain ideologies associated with the term “hipster” and specific assumptions of what a hipster might look like, dress like, act like, and more. You could say the term “hipster” gives rise to various stereotypes of a class of people divided from the ordinary culture. Quite often, subcultures are created for those who don’t fit in or feel they don’t acquire a sense of belonging in typical mainstream culture; these individuals discover they want to embrace their differences, which then forms the “hipster” subculture consisting of people of similar nature. In this paper I will analyze hipsters in conjunction with connecting them to popular culture and the ideas and concepts we have been examining in class.

A hipster is generally known as a free thinker, down to earth, expressive, artistic, and a politically and environmentally aware type of person. When we picture a hipster, we see a person wearing traditional clothes but of a distinct fashion, messy hair, and sometimes sporting the “I just rolled out of bed” look. Hipsters carry ideologies that they are arrogant, demanding, and sometimes extremely direct in their thoughts.  In my experience, I have noticed that “hipsters” hang around urban areas where there are large sums of people going about their day. I have also observed that hipsters are generally strolling around by themselves, or conversing and connecting with people that share a similar appearance. Although a majority of society affiliates a negative stereotype with hipsters, we need to recognize that not every individual that is considered a  “hipster” corresponds with the typically pessimistic ideologies that are associated with the hipster subculture. With these ideas in mind, now consider the concept of looking vs. seeing the hipster subculture.

Through Sturken and Cartwright’s reading the Practices of Looking, they surge into detail about how the concept of looking vs. seeing immediately relates to ideology. While they focus the concept of looking vs. seeing with visual images, I find it’s interesting and helpful to apply the concept with the hipster subculture. When we look at a hipster, we see a ragged, angry, disheveled individual and it is no surprise that we instantly put our guard up. However, instead of simply looking at a hipster and making generalizations, it is remarkable to see into a hipster while taking note of what their life and culture entails. Seeing into a hipster is seeing a dynamic person with differing values, experiences, expectations, and point of view. Hipsters can also be labeled as a counter culture because they reject mainstream consumerism and reject following the routine ways of life in modern culture. I have recognized that hipsters occasionally catch my eye in a crowd and make clear that they aren’t afraid to step out of the social norms and expectations society has set.

Hipsters usually stay away from gas guzzling vehicles and on average are environmentally and politically aware of what is taking place in our world today. Hipsters are especially strong participants in the new “green” era because they stick to environmentally friendly practices and encourage others to change their unhealthy habits that negatively affect the globe. From analyzing hipsters, they feel they are individually connected to the “be green” fad because their ideas and practices of being green started long before society caught up with the environmental trend. This marks what Adorno and Horkheimer studied called the process of pseudo-individualization where people feel a sense of individuality on a certain subject or experience, but really they are one with the crowd following the latest fads in popular culture. Being green results as one of those fads where hipsters believe being environmentally friendly is to be separated from the crowd by not participating in typical culture that consists of constant consumerism. However, the “green” fad has become exceptionally fashionable and commercialized as a new trend within popular culture in which many people are even competing on who can prove more concerned about preserving the environment. Although many hipsters feel they embrace their individuality by being a part of the green fad in popular culture, they are indeed unified with many others in society whom are making significant changes in hopes of bettering the planet.

Strolling down the streets of Portland, it is quite simple to find a person that identifies with the hipster subculture. Through studying hipsters, I have found that they obtain various ideologies and are labeled for not adhering to the social norms and expectations in our culture. Hipsters value individuality, freethinking, and sharing their own opinions and ideas. The hipster subculture ties in with the process of ‘bricolage’ in which they appropriate their own uses and meanings through mixtures of clothing, style, and other practices that set them apart from the mainstream culture today. The process of ‘bricolage’ in the hipster subculture is also recognized as a form of resistance to dominant cultures in society. By analyzing hipsters, I have gotten a better understanding of how various concepts we have studied in popular culture make significant connections to the hipster subculture and lifestyle.

This entry was posted in Fall 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Hipsters- A Sub And Counter Culture

  1. Patrick says:

    “However, the “green” fad has become exceptionally fashionable and commercialized as a new trend within popular culture in which many people are even competing on who can prove more concerned about preserving the environment.”

    Oxymoron—> “commercialized” + “preserving the environment”.

    Good sociological observation, but you fell a short when you disregarded the hipsters feeling of individuality through being “green” before; ‘green was cool’. You accept that hipsters have a connection with environmentalism but you chalk it up to “pseudo-individualism” due to hipsters being part of the “green fad”. This is a very critical view of the sub-culture and it ignores the fact that these same people that now feel alienated by the main-stream acceptance were also those that made it main-stream. You accept that hipsters preach environmental responsibility but you take no responsibility (pun int.) when you claim hipsters have no connection with that paradigm shift. That is where you lose in a sociological perspective, you are condescending of the sub-culture in your view and it has obviously biased your observation.

    You should take a second look at your research and your finished hypothesis, especially the second last paragraph.

    – A Sociology Student

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