Youth Cultures: Scenes, Subcultures and Tribes (Routledge Advances in Sociology)

Hodkinson, Paul and Deicke, Wolfgang
Routledge, London
0415376122 (hb)

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Cover of book Edited by Paul Hodkinson and Wolfgang Deicke, Youth Cultures presents the latest collection of academic discussions in (youth) subcultural theory. The opening chapter suggests that this publication aims to build upon existing literature in this area; exploring continuing debates, embracing a variety of perspectives and presenting fresh insights. The collection comprises fifteen chapters and whilst these continue common, recurring issues within subcultural theory (alternatives to the concept of 'subculture', insider/ outsider, ethnicity and gender, resistance, space and place), the research is fundamentally successful in presenting contemporary examinations of such discussions. Given 21st century developments in technology, there are naturally a number of chapters devoted to the relationship between this and youth cultures. The collection is also in keeping with the increasing move from a focus on British youth cultures to a wider cultural awareness with data and samples drawn from countries such as France, Germany, and the U.S.A.

Most interesting, I found, were the chapters written by Andrew Brown ('Rethinking the subcultural commodity: The case of heavy metal t-shirt culture(s)') and Rupa Huq ('Resistance or incorporation? Youth policy making and hip hop culture'). Brown considers the relationship between youth subcultures and commercial cultural industries; exploring the absence of shopping as a subcultural activity in existing discussion. Here the reader finds a critique of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies' (CCCS) circuit of style construction and incorporation with Brown's findings suggesting that the consumption of commercially produced commodities (in his research, metal t-shirts) can carry meanings and be put to uses which allow differentiation, rather than mainstream conformity. This work certainly demonstrates the necessity for examining youth consumption further.

Huq's work, like Brown's, considers the concept of incorporation but here the reader is shown a cross-cultural comparison of the apparent incorporation of elements of youth music culture (specifically, hip hop) by educationalists and policy makers in Britain and France. A consideration of policy, something quite unexamined in this area of study, provides fresh insight on the concepts of authenticity and resistance and Huq argues that one must avoid the false dualism between incorporation (bad) and unincorporation (good). The findings from Huq's research supports the argument that dichotomies risk simplifying often quite complex arrangements whilst, at the same time, questioning the often assumed element of resistance within youth subcultures.

With a title such as Youth Cultures it comes as no surprise to find a collection focusing on a limited age demographic. It was somewhat disappointing, however, that in a collection aiming to 'invigorate' subcultural debate and discussion that dialogue on this association between youth culture and age restrictions was not granted further space. Whilst Hodkinson fleetingly comments upon and notes the importance of age towards the end of the opening chapter this, coupled with the chapter from Bennett ('As young as you feel: Youth as a discursive construct'), did not satisfy my appetite. Perhaps such further inclusion would entail a reconsideration of the collection's title but this seems fitting with Hesmondhalgh's critical examination of the concepts we employ within subcultural theory (which is featured within the publication). Nevertheless, the collection indeed offers fresh insights into issues beyond that of age; providing the reader with a vital overview of the nature of contemporary subcultural debate. Youth Cultures will be welcomed by those with an interest in subculture and/or youth music cultures, and would also be relevant to those exploring online communities and identities.

Laura Manicom
Grantham College