Taking pleasure seriously: the political significance of subcultural practice

Dimou, Eleni and Ilan, Jonathan (2018). Taking pleasure seriously: the political significance of subcultural practice. Journal of Youth Studies, 21(1) pp. 1–18.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13676261.2017.1340635


This paper demonstrates that subcultural theory continues to provide a relevant and useful analysis of youth leisure practices and their political significance in contemporary society. It achieves this by analysing the theoretical antecedents to both subcultural theory and the post-subcultural theory that followed it. It is argued that the post-subcultural turn to studying affects and everyday lives resonates deeply with the Gramscian perspective informing subcultural theory. It is thus possible to interpret postsubculturalism as augmenting rather than negating its predecessor. Deploying an analysis that combines these perspectives allows for an account of contemporary youth leisure practices that demonstrates a number of different forms of politics explicated within the paper: a politics of identity and becoming; a politics of defiance; a politics of affective solidarity and a politics of different experience. Whilst not articulated or necessarily conscious, there is a proto-politics to youth leisure that precludes it from being dismissed as entirely empty, hedonistic and consumerist. This paper demonstrates how the lens of postsubculturalism focuses on the affective spaces where this politics is most apparent and provides a means of updating subcultural theory to understand contemporary youth practices.

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