Asses the claim that youth cultures are hybrid cultures
Our presentation was based on the topic area of multicultural youth. The question asked us to asses the claim that youth cultures are hybrid cultures. As a group we decided that we would tackle this question by using popular music as our point of focus. We felt that popular music was something that brought people together in a semi unified fashion irrespective of age colour or creed. For this reason it was agreed that the question of hybridity could be addressed by using popular music as our main point of discussion.
We also felt that it was necessary to address some of the points that were raised within the lecture that corresponded with the question, however we also felt that it was necessary to draw upon the information that we received from other topics within this unit. For example, club cultures, street style and consumption. We felt that the amalgamation of all these idea would provide us with a wholesome and informative presentation. The points that we wished to highlight were issues of race and ethnicity, style and consumption and aspects of rave culture.
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We also felt that it was important to show the hybridity of popular music in youth culture and as a result we paid particular attention to Madonna because we believed that her music provided a good example of hybridity. During the presentation all of these points were covered, however as the person who was giving the final conclusion it would have been better to have summed up each part in more detail, having said this it would have taken a lot of time if this had been done. Individually and as a group we should have paid more attention on our artist.
As stated before, Madonna was used in this presentation because we felt that her music was a good example of hybridity. We also felt that she is an artist who was and still is able to break sex, race and culture boundaries. We felt that Madonna and her music came to represent a community of youth; however we failed to take into consideration the stereotypes that her music videos may be liable to produce. During the presentation we showed a collage of several of Madonna’s videos.
Although her music was able to produce examples of hybridity we also noticed that there were negative aspects to the way music genres and cultures were being represented within her videos. For example, one of the clips showed Madonna walking along the streets of Harlem. The music genre represented in this video was R ‘n’ B; we saw that as the music progressed the audience was presented with clips that featured prostitution, drugs and violence. The video is captured in black and white, which connotes a dark and seedy environment that is inhabited mainly by the black lower class community.
Due to the limitation of time we were unable to highlight the negative and stereotypical aspects of Madonna’s music; however we acknowledge that for future reference, this would have been a good point to consider. Having said this, if we had practiced our delivery of this topic we may have been able to shorten certain aspects of the presentation. For example, one point that was raised during the presentation was race. Although this part of the presentation was very informative and very weighty on theoretical perspectives, it could have been more concise while at the same time providing our audience with in-depth examples.
Multicultural Youth: A critical Review The gathering of tribes discusses the fusion of different group styles. Polhemus (1994) talks of different style tribes that provide youth with a range of style options that allow them to be experimental. He states that heterogeneous groups overlook their diversity and differences due to their common concerns and shared problems, which as a result promotes unity between the subcultures. This provides us with an important question and a point for consideration. What are the outside forces that create this harmonizing affect between the various subcultures?
Polhemus states, ‘Though the heavy handedness of the police in shutting down both raves and festivals is perhaps the most obvious candidate, there are other factors to be considered…. The excessive media attention and the fashion industries increasing tendency to instantly convert street style into the latest trends,’ are grounds for concern among the different subcultures. As a result of this pressure, inaccurate representation and unwanted commodificationin, the subcultures have been able to sift through the mass of individuals who are serious about the culture and those who are not.
Another important point that Polhemus addresses is the Homogeneous hybrid nature of each subculture (style house or tribe), that has no apparent hierarchy. Cultures of this nature are open to ‘cross fertilisation’ and further hybridisation. The points that were raised within this reading provided us with a few ideas for our group presentation. To asses the claim that youth cultures are hybrid cultures, we decided to focus on one form of culture that bring youth together, this being popular music. This is because popular music is a good example of hybridity.
The charts feature various artists that specialise in different genres of music. We felt that popular music was similar to Polhemus’ description of the homogeneous subcultures that command no authority over each other but are open to share ideas from one and other. As we continue through the article Polhemus (1994) describes the awareness of previous style tribe’s, cultures and subcultures that provide a pop culture education for the current generation of subcultures. This idea was significant because we felt that music styles of the past influenced the styles of the present and future.
According to Stuart Halls’ idea of new ethnicities we felt that popular music and this article described the ‘recognition of the extraordinary diversity of subjective positions social experiences and cultural identities. ‘ (Hall, in Donald and Rattansi 1992: 257) Polhemus (1994) also address the notion of consumption among those who shop at the supermarket of style. He points out that individuals may have become subjects of commodification and through the array of choices presented; these individuals have the opportunity to move through one style after the other. Once again, these ideas reflected the consuming style of popular music.
According to Jephcott (1967) and Smith (1966) ‘Britain accounted for 160 million records sold, 90 percent of which was popular music…. The twelve to twenty year old age group account for three quarters of popular music sales. ‘ (Jephcott and Smith, in Brake 1985: 71) Consumer culture is ‘a social arrangement in which the relationship lived cultures and social resources between the meaningful ways of life and the symbolic and material resources on which they depend is mediated through markets in the system of consumption and is dominated by the consumption of commodities. (From lecture notes) Here we see that ideas of identity and youth culture hybridity are defined and orientated in relation to consumption. The consuming nature does not produce but chooses from an array of products. In his article Polhemus (1994) hints at this nature of consumption expressed by youth as one that displays a lack of appreciation for cultures and products produced by these cultures. However without this nature of consumption by individuals within society, the cross fertilisation of subcultures that he speaks about would not occur.
To highlight the importance of consumption Wulff (1988) stated that the important characteristic of youth styles were significant as some of these styles were ‘transnational and appear in different versions in many places around the world…. These styles were picked up via music. ‘ As stated before, this article provided us with some ideas which we were able to develop and expand upon. We found that this article was in complete agreement with our ideas of hybridity among youth cultures. Using this article we were able to draw on ideas of other theorist.
For example Sarah Thornton (1995) provided us with ideas of subcultures that sought to break away from the mainstream through their taste. She spoke about the sub cultural capital that provided individuals with an unseen status that was synonymous for being cool and hip. Having said this we noticed that unlike Polhemus (1994) who addressed the diversity of different groups, Thornton (1995) overlooked this. Her ideas were based upon a narrow assumption of the type of people that these cultures consisted of.
We notice that the club cultures that were addressed within her article were overwhelmingly white club cultures. The experiences that were raised within her article produced a form of racialised/ white knowledge that does not locate club cultures within the socio historical context in which they emerged in the Britain in the 80’s. We also noticed that Thornton (1995) over looked rave cultures, which represented urban multiculturalism that provides an alternative to Britpop. We notice that once again Thornton ignores the diversity of rave culture.
Rave culture similar to the style tribes are a celebration of mixing and cultural synchronisation that is open to global cultural influences. However Thornton names these cultures as white and deems the dominant. Unlike Hall, she fails to consider how race and ethnicity were important sets of distinctions that could not be deployed by white youth to gain social advantage over Black and Asian youths. In conclusion, we found that Polhemus’ (1994) article provided us with a canvas to work upon.
We found that by using his idea of street style as an example of hybridity we were able to present our ideas on popular music. We found that popular music was and still is an amalgamation of different music forms that borrow from each other. As stated before popular music is the recognition of diversity social experience and cultural identities. Therefore when we consider different genres of music we must understand that these sounds are expressed by groups of people of different races ethnic, class and social backgrounds.
With every new artist music will continuously change and the cross fertilisation the Polhemus speaks about will remain an important factor within hybrid youth cultures. Consumption within youth cultures will continue to be a prominent aspect of the cultures because it assists the ever changing process of youth cultures. However within youth cultures as a whole we must remember that there is no one race. In fact youth cultures are colourless. They are a mixture of many elements that are constantly in motion. Youth cultures are not fixed they are a continuous ever changing transient process.