Youth Culture, Leisure and Lifestyle

From subcultures to post-subcultures

Authored by: Andy Bennett

Routledge Handbook of Leisure Studies

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415697170
eBook ISBN: 9780203140505
Adobe ISBN: 9781136495595


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The sociological study of youth culture has been characterized by two distinctive paradigms of theoretical and empirical enquiry. From the late 1960s through to the late 1990s, the concept of subculture dominated the field of youth culture research. A central tenet of this approach was a focus on class as a basis for understanding the cultural practices of youth. During the early 2000s, the field of youth cultural studies experienced what several researchers have referred to as a ‘post-subcultural’ turn (Bennett, 2011a; 2011b). This term has been used to explain a shift from rigid, class-based ‘subcultural’ theories of youth culture to new approaches that posit youth culture as comprising more fluid and transient youth groupings, variously referred to as scenes, lifestyle groups and neo-tribes. In contrast to subcultural theory, much of the work associated with the ‘post-subcultural’ turn has broadened its scope to focus upon a broader range of youth consumption and leisure, notably in relation to sport, tourism and various forms of digital media. Arguably, there is much to be learned from opening up the study of youth culture to such dimensions of leisure. The purpose of this chapter will be to consider what an examination of the broader terrains of youth leisure and lifestyle reveals about the nature of contemporary youth cultural practice in both a local and a global sense.

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