What is a Subculture?

Cohen, Albert K. “A General Theory of Subcultures.” The Subcultures Reader, edited by Ken Gelder, Psychology Press, 2005, pages 50-59.

The Subcultures Readers is an anthology discussing different small cultures that counter the thoughts of the general society. Albert Cohen writes about how a subculture gets started. He says that everyone views the world from their own frame of reference and rarely will see things differently than the way their culture tells them too. When multiple people have similar problems, though, and they find a solution that counters general ideas, the people are willing to group together and go against current beliefs and create a counterculture of their own.

Countercultures are an interesting way of understanding why some people think that “bad” things are worth doing. Understanding that one person is rarely going to diverge from the mainstream but many people struggling similarly will create their own path to feeling successful and right is an important concept and helps to understand why people will steal from others, or shorten their lifespan with chemicals, or break other serious laws. Albert Cohen was a well-respected criminologist with a special interest in the subcultures of gangs. He was a Harvard graduate with multiple awards for his thoughts on subcultures.

Subcultures are a good way to approach the topic of vending machines because you can analyze the subculture of alcoholics, nicotine addicts, fetishists of minors, kleptomaniacs, obese and overweight individuals, and many other groups.

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