chapter  3
25 Pages

Just another brick in the wall. British studies of working-class youth cultures The social ecology of the British working-class

American subcultural theory has been viewed as inappropriate to Britain by many British subcultural theorists. Downes (1966) argues that American theory is intrinsic to its own culture, whilst the British working classes have their own highly developed historical traditions. The British social structure is more historically class-conscious, and most British people can tell another’s class origins and length of education by accent alone. Britain lacks the neo-colonial immigrant past of the United States. Its non-white groups are recent immigrants, and it does not have a long history of nationally born, impoverished, ethnic minorities who contribute to the myth that the poor are nonwhite. Youth cultural studies have focused on school, the workingclass neighbourhood and local peer groups. Gangs have been less closely studied, and usually in the context of activities other than delinquency alone. While gangs tend to be informally structured ‘near groups’, composed of a closely linked core with a looser network of peripheral members, subcultures have been seen as wider than this. They are the constellations of actions, values, style, imagery and even life styles which, through media reportage, extend beyond a neighbourhood to form a complex relationship with other larger cultures, to form a symbolic pseudo-community.