chapter
INTRODUCTION: Youth culture at the turn of the century
Pages 6

Both ‘youth’ and ‘culture’ are increasingly contested concepts. The compound term ‘youth culture’ is an evocative phrase conjuring up hedonistic images of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Youth culture is also about post-war affluence (Abrams 1959) and idealism. Any inexpensive dictionary of quotations offers a multitude of entries illustrating youthful irresponsibility such as Oscar Wilde’s ‘youth is wasted on the young’. Common parlance concurs. ‘You’re only young once.’This book addresses rock ‘n’ roll, or rather pop music, alongside the political possibilities of youth and youth culture.These will be considered in the light of a body of work that constitutes probably the most comprehensive academic attempt at theorising youth culture: the 1970s stable of subcultural studies from Birmingham, UK. It is the central aim of the book to look seriously at youth culture and pop ‘beyond subculture’, taking musical scenes and their consumers and producers into its remit.