Subcultures and the Right to the City

Cristina Mateo

Think about youth subculture, visualize, and the extravagant outfits of punks in 1980s Camden Town, London, or New York’s Tompkins Square Park, home to a de facto homeless shelter, come to mind.

Yes, youth subcultures had their hang out sites, and they were eminently urban, but their use of space was largely ignored.

The subcultures discussed in Dick Hebdige’s seminal work Subculture: The Meaning of Style, focused on the youth tribes that emerged in the years after WWII as a form of political rebellion in which style and artistic expressions were related to social, cultural and political concerns – where style (clothes, music, etc.) was inherently political, a form of class revolt, to “express and resolve contradictions which remained hidden or unresolved in the parent culture.” This aspect of conflict was key to their definition.

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