Dick Hebdige In Subculture

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The Rise and Suspension of Subversion and Defiance: A Comparison of Culture in Subculture: The Meaning of Style by Dick Hebdige and Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault Culture is an ambiguous term that sociologists have attributed multiple definitions to. For the purpose of this essay, I will follow T.S. Eliot’s definition of all of the characteristic activities and interests of a group of people (Eliot, 1948). In this essay, I will compare how Dick Hebdige in Subculture: The Meaning of Style and Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish study culture in the form of the British working-class subculture and changes in the Western penal system, respectively. According to Hebdige, culture is formed around ideology (Hebdige 11). Ideology …show more content…
Hebidge present two ways that signs are used: (1) the act of transforming signs as embodied by the punks and (2) the expression of static signs as embodied by the teddy boys (Hebdige 124). To interpret what this means I will consider Ferdinand de Saussure’s discussion semiotics in Course in General Linguistics. According to Saussure, in language, the sign has an arbitrary meaning so that the sounds used to identify a sign and the sign itself is chosen arbitrarily (Saussure 69). For the punks, dynamic expression of style, the sign itself changes while the intent behind it, which is a Refusal of the parent culture, remains. The punks are then able to go against the parent culture because the parent culture is unable to fully appropriate the symbols of the punks back into mainstream culture. In contrast, because the teddy boys had a homogeneous style with a set meaning, the parent culture is able to appropriate it by shifting the intent of the symbol to reside in the bounds of the dominant culture (Hebdige 82-83). Along similar lines, Foucault discusses the semiotics behind corporeal punishment. A public punishment that befits the crime engrains in the population an association with the crime and the punishment, so when the crime comes to mind, so does the punishment. This association acts as a deterrent from committing the crime (Foucault …show more content…
He then develops his theory by looking at the relations between a subculture, such as the punk, and the dominant culture or a different subculture, such as the teddy boys. In this relative analysis, Hebdige sees a subculture transform with changing political, exterior forces, but lacks discussion of a subculture differentiating from within the community and the perceprion of individual members. Considering how culture according to Foucault is structured around perpetuating self-discipline to be in accordance to the norms of a society, subcultures create a problem that could be remedied the Foucauldian way of extracting them from society and putting them in isolation to be reformed and integrated back into the dominant

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