CHAPTER 3

Early Youth Cultures of Music and Dance

In this chapter I will consider both early and more recent accounts ofyouth cultures that consider such cultures to be intergenerational rather than intra-generational1–or counter cultural–units based in geographically and historically specific localities. As Karl Mannheim (1952, originally published in 1927) rightly proposes with regard to the social characteristics of a generational unit, 'At any given point in time we must always sort out the individual voices of the various generations, each attaining their point in time in its own way' (1952: 283). Furthermore, 'Mere contemporaneity becomes sociologically significant only when it also involves participation in the same historical and social circumstances' in which it is evident that 'constant transmission of the cultural heritage' (1952: 298 and 299) is a fundamental social process in the life course of a given generation. The possibility that the parent culture could transmit its heritage to youth subcultures or that transmission could be received in the opposite direction has been largely denied by structuralist approaches. Youth subcultures as well as club cultures and–to a lesser extent–post-subcultures have been portrayed as insular units that attempt to conceal and protect their cultural heritages from the threat of parental censure or media amplification.

An alternative portrayal of subcultures considers their transmission through interactions with dominant cultural forces to be a necessity for their ongoing impact: 'The diffusion may remain quite limited unless the information reaches wider audiences via the mass media' (Fine and Kleinman 1979: 9). The accounts discussed here set the agenda for my own interactionist approach to everyday youth cultural consumption and production of one such mass medium (i.e. music).2 In particular, I will argue that an interactionist approach is better able to detail the people and places that surround youth cultures. By people, I mean not only the young people who live out youth cultures but the older people–parents, teachers, bus drivers and so on–who interact with youth on a daily basis. By places,

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