Beyond White Pride: Identity, Meaning and Contradiction in the Canadian Skinhead Subculture

By Young, Kevin; Sumner, Judith H. | The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, May 1997 | Go to article overview

Beyond White Pride: Identity, Meaning and Contradiction in the Canadian Skinhead Subculture


Young, Kevin, Sumner, Judith H., The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology


Unlike other flamboyant post-war youth subcultures - teddy boys, mods and rockers, new wave, rap or grunge - for a variety of people and generations throughout the world the label "skinhead" conjures an immediate, if often stereotypical, sense of what the group represents. Much of what is known of the skinhead movement both in Canada and abroad stems from the aggressive behaviour of the first generation of British skinheads in the late 1960s and the 1970s, or from the more organized and xenophobic practices of the present generation of ultra-right skinhead gangs that are active across Europe. The current moral panic associated with skinheads largely derives from the fact that countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France are known to have experienced an increase in white-supremacist skinhead attacks on refugees, immigrants and gays (Maclean's, Nov. 23, 1992; Bjorgo and Wilte, 1993).

Of course, the deviant reputation of skinheads stems not only from their behaviour but also from the very menacing image they project or, in other words, their style. According to Brake, style is made up of three main ingredients: image, which includes costume and accessories; demeanour, which includes gait, posture and practice; and argot, or the use of a distinct vocabulary (1985: 12). With such identifying characteristics or style in mind, Brake described the early British skinheads as:

Aggressive working-class puritans in big industrial boots, jeans rolled up high to reveal them, hair cut to the skull, braces, and a violence and racism [that] earned for them the title "bovver boys," "boot-boys" on the look out for "aggro" (aggravation). Stylistically they have roots in the hard mods, forming local gangs called after a local leader or an area. Ardent football fans, they were involved in violence on the terraces against rival supporters. They espoused traditional conservative values, hard work, patriotism, defence of local territory, which led to attacks on hippies, gays and minorities. They became a metaphor for racism .... "Puritans in boots," they opposed hippy liberalism, subjectivity and disdain for work, attempting to "magically recover the traditional working-class community" (75-76).

Since the first generation of British skinheads, surprisingly little research into the various manifestations of the subculture has been conducted. Exceptions to this are Walker's (1980) study of second generation London skinheads, Burr's (1984) analysis of London skinheads' drug-related lifestyles, and Moore's (1990) study of the relationship between alcohol consumption patterns and ethnic identification among Australian skinheads. Notably, none of these studies looked at North American skinheads.

North American youth subcultures have arguably not enjoyed the same flamboyant history as their British counterparts. Early American sociologists have consistently, if unpersuasively, argued that working-class American youths find membership in a gang a more viable option than membership in a youth subculture (A. Cohen, 1955; Miller, 1958; Cloward and Ohlin, 1960).(1) The apparent difference in youthful expression has been attributed to broade differences in the historical, political and even educational (Tanner, 1992: 224) circumstances of Britain and North America. In Canada, neither the gang solution nor the subculture solution appears to dominate - examples of both exist, and these are becoming more visible and of greater interest for study.(2) However, Brake has gone so far as to say that youth culture in Canada is "largely derivative, [that it] uses elements of borrowed culture, and (that) any oppositional force is highly muted" (1985: 145).(3) What purpose North American youth subcultures serve for their members remains unclear, and they have yet to be as rigorously investigated as, say, British subcultures.

Skinheads began to appear in the United States and Canada in the late 1970s. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Beyond White Pride: Identity, Meaning and Contradiction in the Canadian Skinhead Subculture
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.