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Contraculture and Subculture Author(s): J. Milton Yinger Source: American Sociological Review, Vol. 25, No. 5 (Oct., 1960), pp.

625-635 Published by: American Sociological Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2090136 . Accessed: 21/07/2013 14:27
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is suggested in order to distinguish between normative systems of sub-societies and emergent norms that appear in conflict situations.within the larger world of our national culture.139. The ease with which the term has 'cultural variants displayed by certain segments of the population. S. Sargent. For example: versity of norms to be found in many societies but on the normative aspects of deviant "The term 'subculture' refers in this paper to behavior. Culture and istic and moralistic interpretations. p. is tively cohesive cultural systems. occupational. Sargent and M. occution.They refer then to ethnic. 1959." ciological point of view in research that has (Mirra Komarovsky and S. 49. "the mores can make anything right. the term subculture is used in several different ways. p. They are worlds indicative of its utility in emphasizing a so. occupational styles. p. New York: American Book. to contrast the value systems of social pation. a key task was to document the gional contains numerous subgroups." In 1958. New York: Harcourt-Brace. and region.' Subcultures are distinguished not been adopted." (Sociology and Social Life." a central concept in this of subculture in sociological and anthro. or to emphasize the controllingpower sub-group values and language. In the early days of sociology and anthro.) that is often disregarded. New York: The Viking Fund. In the study of these areas. It is unfortunate and fruitful employment of the concept that "subculture." the overly simplified but useful idea that (The Study of Society. 21 Jul 2013 14:27:45 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . they fail to Although make several distinctions which are the study of the enormousvariability of cul. S. W.) These authors then refer to class. each with its own enormous variability of culture from society characteristic ways of thinking and acting. A new term contraculture. with resultant imprecision in its application. recentyears therehas beenwidespread ture within some societies. 62O5 IN This content downloaded from 14. Kimball Young and Raymond W.Personality. of distinctive subsocieties.AMERICAN October 1960 SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW Volume 25. editors. regional and class differences. 1949. Mack state: "Such shared learned beof the code of a delinquent gang is to under. adolescence. "Research Subcultural Influences upon Personality.143." in been strongly influenced both by individual. The usefulness of this distinction is explored with reference to several substantive areas of research.) Thereafter he discusses Whyte's Streetcorner Society. 34. residence. our understanding has been increased by seeing norms that vary from more general standards as manifestations. Unfortunately. however.179 on Sun. These to society and to explore the significance of cultures within a culture are called subcultures. MILTON YINGER Oberlin College Current sociological work makes extensive use of the concept of subculture-in the analysis of delinquency. these definitions are helprecent years that task has been extended to ful. scribe the normative qualities of an occupa. Smith. Blaine Mercer writes: "A society pology. in part. three clearly different meanings are found. religious sects.1It has been used as an ad hoc concept to focus attention not only on the wide di1 There are a few formal definitions. race. After referring to classes. Number 5 CONTRACULTURE AND SUBCULTURE J. To de.125.into S. and revariations. with little study of its exact by one or two isolated traits-they constitute relameaning or its values and its difficulties. In over 100 sources reviewed here. and other topics.process.haviors which are common to a specific group or line a sociological aspect of these phenomena category are called subcultures. has seldom been adequately depological research. The term has been used fined.devscloped below.

and set limits to the range of its variation. 1945. Epps. New York: Appleton-Century. revised edition. p. Evon Z. Langner. "A Test of Intergroup Prejudice Which Takes Account of Individual and Group Differences in Values. editors. 1936. diet.125. L. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. The People of Puerto Rico. p. In the course of twelve months. 81-84. similar to the second usage described below. An Appraisal of Anthropology Today." American Anthropologist. American Society. If chemists had only one word to refer to all colorless liquids and this led them to pay attention to only the two characteristics shared in common. 1955. Vol. 486. 2. The term is often used to point to the normative systems of groups smaller than a society. subculture refers to certain universal tendencies that seem to occur in all societies. and a failure frequently to distinguish between two levels of social causation. Charles H. p. pp. 1958). 148-151. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.179 on Sun. "Attitudes Toward Social Mobility as Revealed by Samples of Negro and White Boys. 1958. however. e. 1955). Linton uses subculture in a different sense." in Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. to give emphasis to the ways these groups differ in such things as language. editor. pp.139." American Anthropologist. Kroeber in "Problems of Process: Results.626 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEW other concepts that are similar but not identical: Edward Sapir's "precultural" and Cooley's "human nature" refer to biological and social influences that underlie all cultures.. 12. New York: Scribner. Vogt. I have noted over 100 books and articles that make some use. 57 (June. Williams. such more or less recurrent near-regularities of form or process as have to date been formulatedfor culture are actually subcultural in nature." The usages vary so widely.. 129-141. of the idea of "subculture.. New York: Knopf. 1953). Hylan Lewis. with the suggestion that the use of Sapir's term "precultural" might well clarify our thinking. whenever a writer wished to emphasize the normative aspects of behavior that differed from some general standard." Pacific Sociological Review. 4 Edward Sapir. 86. 1949). pp. Two other usages of subculture represent a much more serious confusion.5 but the distinctive norms of much smaller and more temporary groups (even a particular friendshipgroup) may be describedas a subculture. 119. In some anthropologicalwork. Jr.3 This use shades off into 2 A. S. Vol. Millways of Kent. Perhaps the most common referent in this usage is an ethnic enclave (French Canadians in Maine) or a region (the subculture of the South)." Journal of Social Psychology. 39 (February. Thus Kroeber writes: "Indeed. 3 Ralph Linton. Montague and Edgar G. and style of life from the larger society of which they are a part. Human Nature and the Social Order. 1955). See also his The Cultural Background of Personality. Kluckhohn. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. See also Clyde Kluckhohn's reference to this idea in "Culture and Behavior. that the value of the term is severely limited. 1954. 48 (October. Kroeber." 2 In The Study of Man. Cambridge: Addison-Wesley." Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. "A Typology of Latin American Subcultures." in Gardner Lindzey. They underlie culture. I shall exclude them from further consideration. 1954). Else- This content downloaded from 14. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 1956. Chapter 10." but the range is very wide." Journal of General Education. John K. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts. and A. pp. Nevertheless three distinct meanings can be described. Murray Straus. Blackways of Kent. 3 (April. religion. 5 See. p. 1163-1172. 1953. 1951. their analysis would be exceedingly primitive. Charles Wagley and Marvin Harris. T. confusion with other terms. 954. "American Subcultural Continua as Exemplified by the Mormons and Texans. refers to "the subculture of anthropologists" and where in The Study of Man. precede it. Morland. 187. "The Concept of Culture in Science. Joel B.4 Since subculture is only rarely used today to refer to this series of ideas. L. 428-451. Julian Steward. 1931. THREE USAGES OF SUBCULTURE Few concepts appear so often in current sociological writing. p. 548554. 1 (Fall. 57 (December. Such an analogy overstates the diversity of ideas covered by "subculture. values. They are limits set to culture by physical or organic factors. 1922. "Personality. for example. The result has been a blurring of the meaning of the term. pp. Thus goodnatured and tyrannical parents may be found in societies that differ widely in their family patterns.. Robin M.g. from incidental to elaborate. The Study of Man." in Sol Tax et al. pp. "Subcultural Variations in Ceylonese Mental Ability: A Study in National Character. Handbook of Social Psychology. New York: Macmillan. Cooley. 21 Jul 2013 14:27:45 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Linton uses subcultureto refer to various pan-human phenomena that seem to occur everywhere.

esp. Ill. The groups involved may range from a large regional subdivision to a religious sect with only one small congregation. 627 of serious frustration or conflict.. Toward A General Theory of Action. F. New York: Wiley. Sarbin. 21 Jul 2013 14:27:45 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . pp."In addition to a cultural dimension. Thus: Tendenciesfor parentsto respondharshly to their children's aggressive behavior. 1957. occupational specialization.g. culture and personality are always empirically tied together. To call attention to the special aspects of this kind of normative system. Before exploring the relationshipbetween subcultureand contraculture." 7 Were this develop- ment retarded by confusion of role with subculture it would be unfortunate. are to be referred equallyto the culture and to the modal personalityof the parents.6 As this quotation suggests. for example. such personality tendencies as frustration.. Robert K. for they are everywhere interactive. language. W. absorption by a dominant society. and resentment are shown to be involved in the creation of the subculture. 1954. diet. Role. editor. 8 (June. anxiety. "Anthropology and Psychology. but only heterogeneous societies have subcultures. Shils. Confusion has arisen not so much from the scope of the term subculture as from its use as a substitute for "role. 1945. New York: Macmillan. "The Role-Set: Problems in Sociological Theory. All societies have differentiating roles. 1956). and other sources). editors. 313-321. e. Nadel. 1. if commonto the membersof a society. "Role Theory.. of course. pp. Role is that part of a full culture that is assigned. Such wide variation in the phenomena covered by a term can be handled by careful specification of the several grounds for subclassification. The Theory of Social Structure. Thus the emergent norms of a delinquent gang or the standards of an adolescent peer group have often been designated "subcultural. as 7 See. p. 1957). feelings of role ambiguity. 34 (May. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. cit. Bates." in John Gillin. 1958. SUBCULTURE AND ROLE The variety of referents for the term subculture is very wide because the normative systems of sub-societies can be differentiated on many grounds. and by the mode of relationship to the surrounding culture (from indifference to conflict). I suggest the term contraculture. But the resultin the developing childis not a foregoneconclusion:present knowledgesuggests that under specifiableconditions outcomesas different as rigidpolitenessor touchy latent hostility may follow. New York: Columbia University Press." Social Forces. Theodore R.125." Only with great effort is some degree of clarity being achieved in the use of the role concept and the related terms "position" and "role behavior. origin (by migration. the monograph by the editors.however. S.CONTRACULTURE AND SUBCULTURE Riesman to "subculturesamong the faculty. Vol. Explorations in Role Analysis.139. as we shall see. yet are dynamically linkedwith it." in Handbook of Social Psychology. Ward S. the range of meanings given subculture even when it is limited to the second usage requires comment. See also Talcott Parsons and Edward A. only a few separate practices among the membersof an occupational group. Mason.for instance. raises to a position of prominence one particular kind of dynamic linkage between norms and personality: the creation of a series of inverse or counter values (opposed to those of the surroundingsociety) in face 6 Brewster Smith. Further distinctions among subcultures might be made on the basis of time (has the subculture persisted through a number of generations?). Glencoe. F. moral values-or. Neal Gross. Chapter 6. The mutual influence of personality and culture is not a distinctive characteristic of this type of subculture. The distinctive norms may involve many aspects of life-religion. Merton. and A. The Psychological Frontiers of Society. 1951.. for there is direct reference to the personality factors involved in the development and maintenance of the norms. and Status: A Reformulation of Concepts. The term subculture. These consequencesin turn may lead to culturalelaborations that seem superficially remotefrom the cultural starting point. McEachern. op." This second meaning. this third usage introduces a social-psychological dimension. L. Specifically. 61. social or physical segregation. Yet the nature of the relation is not the same in all cases. must be distinguished from a third meaning associated with it when the reference is to norms that arise specifically from a frustrating situation or from conflict between a group and the larger society. "Position. For a Science of Social Man." British Journal of Sociology. when used in the third way described here.179 on Sun. and Ralph Linton's preface to Abram Kardiner. 106-120. This content downloaded from 14.: Free Press. which itself contains some ambiguities..

of course.125. one sociological and the other socialpsychological. One should not assume. Sociologists are more apt to find it necessary to explore the tensions between the social order and culture. this is a necessary task. with a resulting failure to understand the causal forces at work. Yet much of the commentary on subculture refers to behavior. more adequately. for a subculture to specify roles within its own system. "The Delinquent Gang as a Near-Group. we emphasize the "fallacy of misplaced concreteness. This dual referent is particularly likely to be found in the work of anthropologists. Yablonsky has recently reminded us that an excessively sociological theory of gangs can result in our seeing a definite group structure and a clear pattern of norms where in fact there is a "near-group. looked down upon. or thought of as separating forces by the other membersof a society. our concepts can obscure the facts we seek to understand. phenomena that on the surface are non-cultural or even "anti-cultural. subculturecarriesmany of the ambiguities associated with the parent concept of culture.8 These rights and duties usually interlock into a system with those of persons who occupy other positions. that cultural norms produce this result. Collective behavior theory and personality theory may also help to account for the similarities. are unknown to. for there may be many non-role aspects of being a physician. Thus the role of a physician is known.9 Carelessly used. It makes vitally important. however. CONTRACULTURE the appropriaterights and duties. when the 8 It is possible. 108-117. 21 Jul 2013 14:27:45 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Perhaps more serious is the tendency to obscure. 1959). not culturally designated rights and duties.179 on Sun. Perhaps we can reverse Durkheim's dictum to say: Do not try to explain social psychological facts by sociological theories. to expected or valued behavior. to be alert to deviations. we throw the book (probably Durkheim) at him. But the empirical mixture should not obscure the need for this analytic distinction. There are doubtless subcultural aspects of being a physician-normative influences affecting his behavior that are not part of his role. In much social scientific writing it is not at all clear whether culture refers to norms. (This is not to prejudge the question of role consensus. the total society. not those that integrate a group with.628 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEW members of a group behave in similar ways. To see the cultural element in delinquency or in the domination of an individual by his adolescent group." was a long step forward in their explanation.139. under this one term." Social Problems. Subcultural norms. In my judgment this identification is unwise. 7 (Fall. This content downloaded from 14." In view of the widespread neglect of socio-cultural factors in the explanation of behavior. Failure to distinguish between role and subculture and vagueness in the concept of culture itself are not the only di-f-Iculties in the use of the idea of subculture. If a psychologist attempts to explain social facts by psychological theories. as contrasted with role norms. Perhaps because their concepts are derived largely from the study of relatively more stable and homogeneoussocieties. pp. to those occupying a given position. at least in vague outline. They are known to and accepted by all those who share the culture. that is.) But subculture is not tied in this way into the larger cultural complex: it refers to norms that set a group apart from. do not try to explain behavior (a product of the interaction of sociocultural and personality influences) by a sociological theory alone. and they are therefore more likely to define culture abstractly as a shared normative system. Behavior is the result of the convergence of many forces."with an imprecise definition of boundaries and limited agreement on norms. On few topics can one get wider agreement among sociologists than on the dangers of reductionism. they draw less sharply the distinction between the statistically normal and the normative. or to behavior that is widely followed and therefore normal in a statistical sense only. But it is also necessary to see the non-cultural aspects of some "norms"9Lewis Yablonsky. or. keen awareness by sociologists that they also deal with an abstract model. by most persons in a society and it is seen as part of the total culture. Along with confusion with the role concept. two levels of explanation.

inefficientwork. the theme itself expresses the tendencies of the persons who compose it. New Haven: Yale University Press. To sharpen our analysis." a contracultural way of describing the same phenomenon.: Free Press. But a contraculture can be understood only by giving full attention to the interaction of the group which is its bearer with the larger society. for example. Referring to the ideological aspects of a subculture. for their similar behavior may be influence over wider circles" (p. 1939. Ill. p." A certain amount of bribery. 355. A subculture. He then designates "revolutionists. to any significant degree. It is not clear from these uses how counter-ideology and counterculture are to be defined.CONTRACULTURE AND SUBCULTURE phenomena that on the surface seem thorougly cultural. Glencoe. Lasswell and Dorothy Blumenstock discuss the use of inverse values as a revolutionary propaganda weapon and comment on the presumed vulnerability of deprived persons to the countermores stressed in this propaganda. the extent to which the norm was a product of interaction of white and Negro. the sociologist opposes the subcultural: If they strive less. with Charles S. a theme of conflict with the values of the total society.intensive analysis of interaction with the larger culture. There is certainly value in emphasizing the subcultural source of some of the values of southern Negroes.'0 None of these criteria definitely 10 By the noun in "contraculture" I seek to call attention to the normative aspects of the phenomena under study and by the qualifying prefix to call attention to the conflict aspects. In Power and Society. The tendency to use the same term to refer to phenomena that share some elements in common. disregardingimportant differences. however. But this is not enough. where personality variables are directly involved in the development and maintenance of the group's values. Our vocabulary needs to be rich enough to help us to deal with these differences. prisoners. Talcott Parsons more nearly approaches the meaning of the concept contraculture as used here. indeed.179 on Sun. many of the values. New York: Knopf. as a primary element. is "normal" "and must be included by the candid observer as part of culture. The values of most subculturesprobably conflict in some measure with the larger culture. 1935. It is one thing to say that the subculture of the rural. It is another thing to say. are specifically contradictions of the values of the dominant culture.is to be content with phyla names when we need also to designate genus and species. and wherever its norms can be understood only by reference to the relationships of the group to a surroundingdominant culture. but the important place Parsons gives to the element of ambivalence in his use of the concept subculture suggests that he has in mind something similar to our concept of contraculture in his use of these various terms. Johnson stressed the conflict element." At various points. personality variables are involved in the development and maintenance of all cultures and subcultures.'" (The Social System. 49. the conflict element is central. but they are either defined only by their use in context or are used differently from the meaning assigned to contraculture in this paper. for its understanding. Finally. like that of the delinquent gang.. (See ibid. 286. its norms are not. In a contraculture. 522). lowerclass Negro encouragesslow. and yet are expected to occur. Harold D. he writes: "In such cases of an open break with the value-system and ideology of the wider society we may speak of a 'counter-ideology. 1950. In a contraculture. or otherwise vary from standards of the dominant society. however. although more by implication than by direct definition. as a pure type. p. it is in part because they have been socialized in accordance with different norms. New York: McGraw-Hill.139. that is. . and without distinguishing it from the concept of subculture. Sub-societies fall along a range with respect to each criterion. does not require.) And later: "If. I suggest the use of the term contraculturewhereverthe normative system of a group contains. . 64).) This content downloaded from 14. have different sexual mores. Lasswell uses the term somewhat differently: "Countermores are culture traits symbolized by the group as deviations from the mores. prostitutes. Similarly. the culture of the deviant group. 21 Jul 2013 14:27:45 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Similar terms are occasionally found in the literature. p. a product of that interaction. p." (World Politics and Personal Insecurity. however. Johnson.125. 1951. that such a norm represents "pseudo-ignorantmalingering. In World Revolutionary Propaganda. the norms of all subcultures are doubtless affected in some degree by the nature of the relationship with the larger culture. on the other hand. Lasswell uses the term "countermores" to refer to "culture patterns which appeal mainly to the id . Against racist views or individual explanations. obscene and subversive talk"-which scarcely suggest a clear analytic category. remains a 'counter-culture' it is difficult to find the bridges by which it can acquire 629 separates contraculture from subculture because each is a continuum. but usually the influence of personality is by way of variations around a theme that is part of the culture.

New York: Oxford." 13 A close reading of the literature on adolescent culture re11 See Talcott Parsons. 589-603. 1940). 243-249. 1956." American Sociological Review. 323-330. 35 (March. and Elkin and Westley. . of course.179 on Sun. Kingsley Davis. For some contradictory evidence.: Free Press. 1957). follow the fashions of the peer culture in morals." If the peer group influence stems from fashion. 3-13.. .14Although it is difficult to distinguish fashion from culture -many empirical phenomena have aspects of both-it is wise to keep them apart conceptually. They are learned. Thus interests. and Color. . Ill." 16 The desirability of keeping distinct the analytic concepts of culture and collective behavior. S. 1957). there are norms that manifest some separate system of values accepted within the adolescent group.125. and speech. Cit. 1957). Chapter 5. A. pp. Ralph Linton.' "o12 Or Riesman: "All the morality is the group's. "The Myth of Adolescent Culture. Eisenstadt.. The need. Indeed. 680684. games. There are currents of fashion or of other collective behavior that sweep through an adolescent group. The Lonely Crowd. Glencoe. This culture has been called the 'adolescent peer culture. then strictly speaking it is not culture. Westley and Frederick Elkin. Ill. pp..: Free Press. From Generation to Generation." 15 See Riesman.630 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEW veals at least four different levels of interpretation.subculturaland contracultural influences may be mixed." American Sociological Review. R. On the subcultural level. in part they conflict with standards accepted by the elders. Chapter 3. See Herbert interpreted in part as a shared response to a frustrating environment. "The Protective Environment and Adolescent Socialization. "A Jury of Their Peers. German Youth: Bond or Free." Social Forces. 3. In part they are unknown to the elders. 1949. Gusfield. even the fact that it is a morality is concealed by the confusing notion that the function of the group is to have fun. their functions. including fashion. 1955). 13 Op. There is an extensive literature that interprets the behavior of adolescents substantially in these terms. esp. These norms are not part of the role of youth. pp. N. pp. Age Groups and the Social Structure. and their consequences. cannot be elaborated here. Delinquency and adolescent behavior almost certainly manifest both influences. 1950..15 And the sentence following the one quoted above from Havighurst and Taba reads: "Boys and girls. op. pp. J. is to develop a clean analytic distinction between the two in order to interpret the wide variations in their mixture. Empirically. 72. but by interaction within the sub-society of youth. Havighurst and Hilda Taba. 1946. Essays in Sociological Theory Pure and Applied. 1942)." American Sociological Review. 5 (July. strongly influencing the behavior of its members. ADOLESCENT SUBCULTURE CONTRACULTURE AND The utility of the distinction between contraculture and subculture can be tested by applying it to several research problems where the concept of subculture has been widely used.. in which the roles of adolescent boys and girls are described. to play. Howard Becker.139. "Age and Sex Categories. Adolescent Character and Personality. 1949. dress. p. 5 (August. p." Social Forces. There is no reason to introduce concepts other than role or specialty to refer to norms that are generally accepted by elders and youths alike as appropriate to youth. 2. New York: Wiley. The two differ to some degree in their origins." Social Problems. The terminology of Riesman is closer to that of fashion than of culture.16 14 See Harold Finestone. or the specialties (in Linton's sense) are designated.. not by socialization in the total society. There is a cultural level. but the net impression of his analysis is that he is thinking of control by the peer group primarily as a cultural phenomenon. New Haven: Yale University Press. "The Sociology of Parent-Youth Conflict. This content downloaded from 14. Glencoe. desiring the approval of their age mates. speech patterns. cit. "The Problem of Generations in an Organizational Structure. often only partially distinguished: 1. This is not always done. David Riesman et al. Joseph R. 35. and aesthetic tastes may be communicated among an age-group with little reference to the larger culture. 35 (May. 7 (October.1"In the words of Havighurst and Taba: "Recent studies of adolescents have emphasized the fact that boys and girls in their teens have a culture of their own with moral standards and with moral pressures behind those standards. "Cats.. 21 Jul 2013 14:27:45 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . pp. Kicks. however. 523-534. see W. Cit. 20 (December. Here the "cat" among some Negroes is seen as "the personal counterpart of an expressive social movement. 12 Op.

: Prentice-Hall." 18 At several other points Parsons develops the "reaction" theme and later uses the concept of "reaction-formation. 17 Parsons. It is quite another for a youth group to develop inverse values in an effort to struggle with role ambiguities and strains. Some sociologists explain this irresponsibility as merely a manifestation of the youth culture. there is sexual frustration. Killian.. however. See ibid.139. of role ambiguity. Essays . op. To rely on a subcultural explanation alone. "Continuity and Change in Sociological Study. pp. as described by Parsons: "Perhaps the best single point of referencefor characterizingthe youth culture lies in its contrast with the dominant pattern of the adult male role. Vol. 23 (December. Ralph H. and adults often respond to the behavior that follows these norms in an "ethnocentric"way. The peer group may help one to struggle with these cross-pressures. but it is likely to be far more useful. Glencoe. ambiguity of selfimage leads to efforts to prove oneself a fullfledged adult. "Fashion. a matter of age status as such but also shows signs of being a product of tensions in the relationship of younger people and adults. Many adolescents spend a great deal of time in groups that sustain norms different from those of the adult world. but that should scarcely lead the social analyst to disregard their differences." American Sociological Review. There is little need to review the extensive literature. Cohen's excellent work. Many analyses of the control exercised by a youth group over its members employ the concept of contraculture. 631 planation.. 20 See Robin M. 6. The description and analysis of an adolescent subculture. New York: Barnes and Nobel. editor. 139-144. to be sure. Ill. is to disregard the emergent quality of many of the standards and to minimize the fact that they are often in direct conflict with adult standards (which most adolescents themselves will soon accept). . the prevention of it there. 541-558.: Free Press. Thus the youth culture is not only. and to feel at least a certain recalcitrance to the pressure of adult expectations and disciplines. 62 (May."17 This irresponsibility cannot be understood simply as another cultural norm. Jr. . are an important contribution to the sociology of youth." 19 Should these various phenomena be subsumed under the concept of culture? It is one thing for a society to train its youth to certain ways of behaving. "Fashion. It must be studied in the.. however. This sharp conflict of values requires exBlumer. 1931. I suggest the term contraculture in order to indicate the normative and the conflict aspects of this type of situation. DELINQUENT CONTRACULTURE The usefulness of separating subcultural and contracultural influences is seen particularly clearly in the analysis of delinquency and of criminality generally." American Journal of Sociology. 619-633. The adolescent may experience both as normative sanctions. pp. . to try to stretch a useful concept into a total theory. to establish the importance of the normative element in criminal and delinquent behavior. N. as is true of the curricular aspects of formal education. they experience contradictory adult treatmenta demand for grownup behavior here. although the terminology and the assumptions are often those of subculture or culture. 92-93. . there is a strong tendency to repudiate interests in adult things. By contrast with emphasis on responsibility in this role. M. A "complex-adequate" analysis 20 may seem less sharp and definitive than one based on one factor. pp. pp. Delinquent Boys.21 although labelled Ibid. Turner and Lewis M. 1955. 21 Jul 2013 14:27:45 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . J. although these are Parsons' terms. from Delinquent Gangs to Delinquent Boys. p. Georg Simmel. the orientation of the youth culture is more or less specifically irresponsible. 189-190. cit. 92." Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 18 19 This content downloaded from 14. It is a mistake. as part of the "role" of youth. Perhaps in no other field were there more substantial gains in understandingmade possible by the introduction of a sociological point of view to supplement and to correct individualistic and moralistic interpretations. "Collective Behavior. . Principles of Sociology. 342-345. There is emphasis on the cross-pressures which young people feel: they want to be adults. Parsons states the facts clearly: "Negatively. 1957). Cohen. 101-102. context of strain.179 on Sun. Lee. 1951. Collective Behavior.125. 21 Albert K. New York: Macmillan. . Englewood Cliffs. 1957." in A. 355. Williams. thus obscuring the personality factors also involved. 1958).CONTRACULTURE AND SUBCULTURE 4. yet fear to leave the securities of childhood. Edward Sapir. pp.

these categories are primarily descriptive.. One reviewer. Kitsuse and David C." American Sociological Review. Because tensions set in motion by this blockage cannot be resolved by achievement of dominant values. 26 See Albert Cohen and James Short. 254. p. however. Cohen and Short have dealt with several of these issues by suggesting the need for a typology. "Techniques of Neutralization: A Theory of Delinquency. their importance denied. it is unnecessary to invent any pathology to account for it. in a review of Delinquent Boys. In fact. 16 (October. Sykes and David Matza. This content downloaded from 14. 1951). and the middle-class subcultures. pp. 752. 208-215. what language to speak. or from an interest in the content of norms to their etiology. pp." in Robert K. they propose five types of subcultures: the parent male (the central pattern described in Delinquent Boys). in Cohen's terms.632 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW a number of important questions: Why do only some of those who are exposed to the delinquent "subculture"learn it? 23 Why do those who follow the subculture often manifest ambivalence and guilt feelings? 24 Why do many of the same patterns of behavior occur in areas and among groups where the presence of the subculture is much less clear (middle-class delinquency) ? 25 What is the significance of the fact that the delinquent subculture is not only different from but in part at least a reversal of the values of the dominant culture? The use of a purely subcultural model of analysis discourages or even prevents the raising of these questions and thus precludes adequate answers to them. his explanation of the origins of the subculture (contraculture) and its functions for the lower class male makes clear that the norms of the gang are not learned. Delinquencyis not a negative thing.nor of the failureof the family. of blocked ambition. Thwarted in his desire to achieve higher status by the criteria of the dominant society. "Personality and Social Structure. editors.but there is a differential the socialization.and the same set of logical assumptionsaccount for both and lawfulness. and negativistic. 20 (December. the church. if the one distinctive criterion used to designate a subculture is the presence in a sub-society of a normative system that separates it from the total society. The same set of concepts. 1959). and less subject to misinterpretation. Alex Inkeles. This is not to say that the values of the gang cannot be explained partially by cultural analysis. pp. what clothes to wear." American Sociological Review.139.It is a positive thing: membersof the several social classes are socontent in cialized. it is not a resultof the breakdown of society. American Sociological Review. The concept of contraculture might be added to this list as a type of subculture. "Delinquent Boys: A Critique. Sociology Today. p. 20-37. 14. 22 (December. but the reaction-formation in this response is indicated by the content of the delinquent norms non-utilitarian. The very existence of the gang is a sign. by some extension of the idea that "the mores can make anything right. Specifically for the study of delinqueiicy. "The Conflict of Values in Delinquency Areas. the conflictoriented. counter-values affirmed.and sociocultural experience. he accepts criteria he can meet. 3 (1958). 25 John I. Dietrick.26 Although the criteria of classification are not entirely clear. 653-661.or the school. pp.125. nor of the failureto curb criminal instincts.22 This statement neither adequately represents Cohen's thesis nor encourages us to explore 22 Frank Hartung. in part. Sincedelinquency delinquency is of this character.society. 21 Jul 2013 14:27:45 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the drug addict. an important difference emerges between subculture and contraculture: the one set of norms derives from 23 See Solomon Kobrin.had he introduced the concept of contraculture alongside the concept of subculture. the semi-professional theft. If the shift is made from descriptionto analysis. completely disregardsthe "negative polarity" theme: In an overallsummary. 24 (April. New York: Basic Books. to produce an adequate taxonomy. does not overlook the psychogenic sources of delinquency." The Journal of Social Issues. 1959. as a study of the culture of the gang. The gang member is often ambivalent. 24See Gresham M. 1955). Such a procedure does not seem. the same socialprocesses. 1957)." But I suggest that Cohen's multiple-factor analysis might have been clearer." American Sociological Review. for example.179 on Sun. This negative polarity represents the need to repress his own tendencies to accept the dominant cultural standards. and taught in the same way that we learn what foods to eat. "Research in Delinquent Subcultures. accepted. culturaldelinquency is a phenomenon of culture. malicious. such values are repressed. 664-670. Merton et al.

Doubtless all three forces are found in many instances." Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. Louis Schneider and Sverre Lysgaard. (See Gresham M. In more mobile class systems. Cohen. although in relatively stable societies the usage seems appropriate. therefore. Kohn.he tends to overlook the kind of evidence reported by Sykes and Matza. 3 (1958).179 on Sun. 1959). Redlich. "Social Class and Parental Values. "Personality Differences Between Middle and Upper Classes. "Juvenile Delinquency and Subterranean Values. Elmtown's Youth.139. Maccoby et al. John A. he points to an important series of influences that derive from the value system of the lower-class community. "Lower Class Culture as a Generating Milieu of Gang Delinquency. however. the other stems from conflict and frustration in the experience of those who share many of the values of the whole society but are thwarted in their efforts to achieve those values. Yablonsky. B. Social Class and Mental Illness. see William McCord and Joan McCord. Readings in Social Psychology. The thesis raises a question of terminology in connection with the present paper: At what point does exaggerated emphasis on a value become a counter-value by virtue of the exaggeration? Some cultural support can be found in a complex society 633 ASPECTS OF CLASS CONTRACULTURAL AND OCCUPATION The same admixture of the concepts of culture. 337-351. requires more than cultural analysis. To discover why some subterranean values are raised into a style of life. A society may accept or even applaud a pattern that is used to a limited degree while condemning its extravagant use. Failure to recognize the abstract quality of our conceptual tools leads to unnecessary disagreements. B. and the research task is to untangle their various influences. "Social Class Differences in the Uses of Leisure.28Surely the evidence is now rich enough for us to state definitively that delinquency is a multi-variable product. the McCords. and aggression). pp. editors. 1954). and Yablonsky cited above. Clyde R." in Eleanor E. And the meaning of the pattern in the life of the individual when found in culturally approved degree differs from what it is when the pattern becomes a dominant theme. 145-151. pp. 1949. White. When Miller describes the "LowerClass Culture as a Generating Milieu of Gang Delinquency. Hollingshead and Frederick C. New York: Holt. many of the rights and obligations of various status levels are culturally defined.. 247-254. but to spell out the conditions under which these and other factors will be found in various empirical mixtures. subcultural and contracultural norms become important. A. "The Deferred Gratification Pattern: A Preliminary Study. Miller." American Journal of Sociology. 1959. Kohn. pp. 1955)." American Journal of Sociology. In such societies. "The Ecological Approach in Social Psychiatry." The Journal of Social Issues. It may stretch the meaning of the term too far to speak of the position of the "middle-class member. 28 In addition to the studies of Sykes and Matza. leisure-time styles. 21 Jul 2013 14:27:45 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . time orientations.) 30 Of the many studies in this area. in value perspectives." American Journal of Sociology. and others concerning collective behavior and personality variables. New York: Wiley. 61 (September. 142-149. 64 (January. and contraculture is found in the extensive literature on occupations and classes. see Charles McArthur. New York: Columbia University Press. Hollingshead. 14. The task ahead is not to prove that it sterns largely from cultural or subcultural or contracultural influences.CONTRACULTURE AND SUBCULTURE standard socialization in a sub-society.27In his effort to emphasize this aspect of the etiology of delinquency. "Socialization and Social Class Through Time and Space. Finestone. 60 (September. 400-425. pp. 1958. A New Evaluation of the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study. 1960. New York: Wiley. subculture. Melvin L. pp. 5-19. 50 (March. Origins of Crime. no one of which is adequate to handle the empirical variations of delinquent behavior. Urie Bronfenbrenner. 140-151. It seems likely that this task will lead to the incorporation of the "subterranean values" thesis into the larger complex of theories of delinquency.125. 1953)." with its culturally designated role specifications." American Sociological Review. among classes. 29 In a recent manuscript.30 for many patterns of behavior that are not fully valued. 1958. Clausen and Melvin L. the use of "pull" to get by without too much work. Our understandingof the Americanclass system has certainly been deepened in the last twenty years by the descriptions of differences." for example. 1955). It should be stressed once more that these are analytic concepts. The main research task is to discover the conditions which promote selective and exaggerated attention to these values at the cost of neglect of the more prominent "public" values. 18 (April." unpublished manuscript. Cohen. Finestone. Sykes and Matza suggest that delinquent behavior can profitably be studied as an exaggerated expression of certain "subterranean values" of the dominant society (the search for excitement. pp.however. pp. levels of aspiration. This idea deserves careful study. A. This content downloaded from 14. and child rearing practices. Sykes and David Matza.29 27 Walter B.

139. if known. The "innovations"of lowerclass members. 21 Jul 2013 14:27:45 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ." American Sociological Review. They are in part responses to a frustratingsituation." American Sociological Review. Becker writes: "their rejection of commercialism in music and squares in social life was part of the casting aside of the total American culture by men who could enjoy privileged status but who were unable to achieve a satisfactory personal adjustment within it. It is highly important. In class analysis as in the study of deviations. The lower educational aspirations of lower-class members are also found to be in part situationally induced. bears on this same point. on the other hand. See Leonard Reissman." 35 Their style 34 Raymond A." American Sociological Review.32 Stephenson's discovery that occupational plans of lower-class youth are considerably below those of higher-class youth. pp. and the Achievement Syndrome. 49 (September. to compare. This may indicate that the low achievement response is less the result of a subcultural norm than a protest against a difficult situation." American Sociological Review. "Race. "Levels of Aspiration and Social Class. and those that express contraculturalresponsesto deprivation. "Socio-Economic Background and College Enrollment. They are efforts to deal with the disjunction of means and ends. are only partly a result of subcultural contrasts. Wilson. but also in Differencesin behavior. 33 Richard M. There are also contracultural aspects of some occupational styles of life." American Sociological Review. the achievement value changes. One would expect. as Mulligan found in his study of the response of the sons of blue-collar workers to the educational opportunitiesof the GI Bill. however. pp. Wright Mills.000 Ninth Graders. When the situation changes. the research task is to specify the conditions under which various distributions occur. thereopportunity. 24 (February. 1959)." American Journal of Sociology. "surprisingly. "The Professional Ideology of Social Pathologists. not simply 31 C. Alan B. "The Professional Dance The introduction of the concept of subculture has helped to avoid class derived biasses in the interpretation of the wide variations in these phenomena. The role of a teacher consists of the rights and duties that integrate him into a system of expected and established relationships with others. our thinking about differencesin behavior among social classes will be sharpened if we distinguish among those differences that derive from role influences. The interpretation of differential behavior among the members of various occupational categories can also be strengthened by the distinctions made above. Mulligan. pp. 16 (April. those based on subcultural variations. If the situation improves. The teaching subculture. 35 Howard S. Becker. When the disjunction is reduced.179 on Sun. to find more contracultural norms among lower-class members of an open society than in a similar group in a closed society. 1959). 233-242. 1943). "Mobility Orientation and Stratification of 1. 204-212. Thus Rosen found. "Residential Segregation of Social Classes and Aspirations of High School Boys. 24 (December. A low absolute target for lower-class members may require a larger reach than a higher target for middle-class persons." that Negroes in the Northeast made higher scores on an "achievement value" test than his description of Negro "culture" led him to expect.31 There is evidence to suggest that differences between classes are based less upon different values and norms than the subcultural approach suggests. pp. 22 (April. This content downloaded from 14. Here the contrast between role and subculture is especially useful.634 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEW normatively induced. pp. to propose one hypothesis. 18 (June. separates teachers from the cultural world of others.33 fore. Stephenson. in aspiration studies. In interpreting the differences between the values of jazz musicians and "squares. values and behavior change. and as Wilson reports in his investigation of the aspirations of lower-class boys attending higher-class schools and upper-class boys attending lower-class schools.34 In short. 47-60.to use Merton's term. 1953). His data suggest that the classes differ not only in norms. pp. 1957). 836845. 165-180. It is either unknown to others or. 1951). are not simply subcultural acts defined as innovative by middle-class persons. a source of disagreement and perhaps of conflict with others. 188-196. 32Bernard C. insofar as it exists. Ethnicity. Rosen."for example. there may be some over-compensation in the effort to eliminate the distortions of a middle-class and often rural perspective. but that their aspirations are only slightly lower. the variations in value and behavior are reduced. The proportions will vary from society to society. not absolute levels.125. but the extent of aspiration above the existing level of individuals or their families.

as a result of mobility or an extension of communication that brings groups of different cultural backgroundinto membershipin the same society. particularly in the specification of relationships between sociological and social psychological levels of analysis. for example. to rights and duties prescribedfor the occupants of a position or to individual performanceof that position. however. Millhands and Preachers. 21 Jul 2013 14:27:45 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . e. but somewhat less clearly.CONTRACULTURE AND SUBCULTURE of life. it may be hypothesized that a subculture will appear. one would expect an increase in contracultural norms. the Ras Tafari cult. alternately. he describes the differentiating norms of the dance-band group. Among first and second generation urban Negroes.. 37 There are numerous alternative ways in which the protest against deprivation can be expressed. But he also describes the contra aspects of some of the norms. Hypotheses concerning contracultures. the Garveyite movement. 57 (September. I have suggested. or the theory of group formation. and where value confusion and weak social controls obtain. the differences in their time schedule. followed by physical or social isolation or both that prevents full assimilation.139. One would expect to find. This desideratum has led to the proposition that the vast diversity of norms believed in and acted upon by the members of a modern society is not a sign of value confusion and breakdown but rather an indication that urban life brings into one system of interaction persons drawn from many cultural worlds. is used to designate both the traditional norms of a sub-society and the emergent norms of a group caught in a frustrating and conflict-laden situation. One might hypothesize. political and religious movements among disprivileged groups may also invert the values of the influential but inaccessible dominant group. can be understoodonly by supplementing the cultural and subcultural dimensions with the conflict theme. Delinquency and drug addiction often have a contracultural aspect. the frustration-aggression thesis." Social Forces. and some aspects of the value schemes of lower-class sects. "The Ras Tafari Movement in Jamaica: A Study of Race and Class Conflict. pp. Liston Pope. 1942. for example. although this confusion is gradually being reduced. Thus ''anomie"is still used to refer both to a social structural fact and to a personality fact. and George E. can best be derived from social psychological theory-from the study of collective behavior. and suggests that they derive from the fact that early recruitment ties the jazz musician to the adolescence problem. 33 (December. function. Cameron. and the like.125. in other words. and perpetuation of traditional and emergent norms.) This content downloaded from 14. 1951). Although he makes no use of the term subculture. 177-182. One unanticipated consequence of the sociological subculture may be that we exaggerate the normative insulation and solidarity of these various worlds.37 The subculture of the sociologist requires sophistication about the full range of human behavior. and weakenedsocial controls. 1954). Hypotheses to guide the study of subculture can most profitably be derived from a general theory of culture. on the other hand." American Journal of Sociology. Cameron develops the same point. pp. B. Simpson. 36 W. pp. but in the urban situation there is more "value leakage" from the dominant group. Both groups are deprived. This paper indicates that there are differences in the origin. An important empirical question concerns the extent and results of their interaction." Social Forces. in the first instance. more value confusion. And subculture. and suggests that the use of the concept contraculture for the latter might improve sociological analysis. 34 (December. "Role" may refer. "Sociological Notes on the Jam Session. Musician and His Audience. contracultural norms will appear.179 on Sun. 1955). 167-170. (See. 136-144. that under conditions of deprivation and frustration of major values (in a context where the deprivation is obvious because of extensive communication with the dominant group). presumably a result of the "esoteric" aspects of their art.g. Thus the concept of contraculture may help us to understand. As an illustration. according to these propositions. many subcultural values among southern rural Negroes.36 CONCLUSION 635 Poorly defined terms plague research in many areas. New Haven: Yale University Press.