chapter  6
19 Pages

‘Take off eh!’—Youth culture in Canada

The location of youth cultures in Canada is a more complex question than the situation in either Britain or the United States. In Britain the presence of a clear historical class situation, with its accompanying culture of class resistance, delineates fairly clearly to youth indicators concerning their class history, present and future. Youth cultures can be argued to have a clear relationship to class, are linked to traditional class problems, and are also clearly visible stylistically. In the United States, whilst there is a general (yet locally specific) high school culture, the complexities of ethnic, workingclass and minority group subcultures have a strong presence. The appropriate signs for identity are clearly there, and whilst one may, for example, differentiate West Coast punks from British punks, the former being more attracted to style, and more aggressive than the latter, both styles are native to their immediate context and reinterpret the artifice of fashion into a subculture which makes sense in the local environment. The situation is more diffuse in Canada for reasons which may be traced to complexities in the culture of Canada itself. In the United States the very real contradictions of extreme poverty in the wealthiest country in the world generates responses to attempts to create an identity in a society which claims democratic access to visible signs of success, yet plainly withholds them from the majority of its youth.