READING GUIDE TO SELECTIONS FROM: Hall S and Jefferson T  (eds) (1976) Resistance Through Rituals, London: Hutchinson

Clarke J, Hall S, Jefferson T, Roberts B  'Subcultures, Cultures and Class' ( Introduction)

This introductory chapter lays out the main theoretical issues and claims:

'Youth' is an official media category, a phenomenal form. Culture is the expressive form of a life experience, it shows how the raw materials of  experience have been handled, or produced, as in Marx. Cultures are objectivated maps of meaning, which both express and constrain: they are pre-constituted fields of possibilities. 

People have an unequal relation to cultural productive capacities. There is a scale of cultural power, leading to the hegemony of the most powerful interests. There is never complete domination, however, but a struggle, even though the dominant culture suppresses this, and claims that it is just  'culture'. Culture becomes ideology where there is total dominance, and where this dominance is used to to reproduce power relations. Normally, however culture is multi-faceted and plural, containing elements from past cultures and layers within it. 

The dominant groups are classes, leading to a pattern of class cultures with subcultures within them. Relations are formed with the parent subculture and then to the dominant culture [ this is the famous 'double articulation' of class and age ]. Cultures signify these relations, which may separate and join different elements -- to take the example of the criminal subcultures formed around the Kray brothers in the 1970s [famous British gangsters and celebrities], some elements were retained from the parent culture  (family values) whereas others were inverted (criminal values). Much depends on the  'focal concerns' of the group [are these actual or attributed concerns?]. These focal concerns can be expressed in matters like distinctive dress. Subcultures can also vary in terms of their intensity and transitoriness. 

However, social class sets the overall 'problematic', although youth culture can appear as classless [and did to the earliest analysts -- Abrams comes in for particular criticism]. However, once we have deconstructed them as a new classless grouping, and reconstructed them as class subcultures, class relations appear. Before proceeding any further, the authors point out that forming a youth culture is only one form of response, and that the most common form of coping is still  'doing nothing', or working at school rather than at rock music. 

Subcultures are an historical phenomenon, not just a contemporary one. There are definite features of the post-War scene though: affluence, the role of the mass-media  [we are reminded, as usual, that the  'mass culture thesis' is too pessimistic], the disruptions of the parent culture due to the War, the spread of mass schooling (and the raising of the school-leaving age, which prolonged adolescence), the growth of a commercial youth culture. These symptoms were originally described as leading to a classless youth culture, part of a general trend in social theory in those days which predicted embourgeoisment. 

Class soon re-emerged though, both generally and in youth culture. Thus one of the earliest forms -- Teddy Boys -- were clearly working class. However they did not engage in classic class struggle, but expressed the contradictions of their existence in cultural terms [basically, borrowing and mocking upper-class dandy clothing to have a good time -- and fighting]. 

Early American symbolic interactionist work ( such as Becker's Outsiders) opened up this approach. Their own work on mugging [ first described here, and later much more developed in Policing the Crisis] 'brought a more direct engagement' and pursued issues of societal reaction and social control 'in a way which attempts to do justice to all the levels of dynamics' (page 6).

Try my aside on methodology too?

The work of Phil Cohen on East End [ of London] working-class youth makes the point about the class problematic (as opposed to a set of problems as such) Cohen noticed the demise of the traditional community in the East End, and saw the extended family as offering the main  'solution' to social and economic problems. Further fragmentation occurred as different options were pursued, including embourgeoisment, according to different age and generational patterns. These resolutions operated in ideology, though, as  'magical solutions' -- they were not real  [political] solutions to the problems. Other solutions arose too, and these could be either  'upward' or 'downward' in orientation. Thus mods pursued the upward route, via social mobility, offered by new occupational opportunities, and lived out some hedonistic, technical, classless future society. Skinheads, on the other hand, pursued a downward option, trying to recreate the old working-class community and its values, often in an exaggerated manner, with their violent behaviour, macho working-class dress, and excessive territoriality. 

Cohen's  work is seminal, but he did not explain why these options occurred, and he over-emphasised the ideological level and the  'magical solution' ( he should have considered factors such as affluence or the new technology as additional 'material factors' -- [pretty strained here?]). Yet class is the right factor to emphasise: it is the determining level, although it permits different sorts of responses with different meanings, so that cultures are also relatively autonomous. We need a model of a culture as a necessary complex totality. [Experienced readers will know that this sort of phrase often signals a substantial theoretical detour -- and sure enough...]. 

We need to examine Gramsci's concept of hegemony  [in order to theorise this necessary complex totality]. Hegemony is the power to win and shape consent, and thus to gain legitimacy for a dominant group. It works via the ISAs, although it creates a political terrain of the struggle  [not reproduction as in the classic Althusser model]. Ideology unites groups, permitting some differences, but within a tight consensus. It offers a lived  subordination, rather than just rule by ideas [to signal a break with simple ideas of  'false consciousness' models]. Hegemony helps to cement alliances, rather than pursuing the domination of a single class. It also offers a  'moving equilibrium' rather than a fixed set of ideas. As a result, class conflict is still there, in the system: the subordinate classes negotiate solutions of the ruling class, in concrete situations, and while retaining subordinate values to some extent [there is a reference to Parkin here]. So, hegemony forms links among members of a class, and links vertically with dominant institutions -- for example, schools provide different options, and different strategies, for members of different classes. You can be a scholarship boy [sic] or a troublemaker: the same raw-materials lead to very different responses. Ultimately, it is a political matter to develop revolutionary consciousness  [so there will be no automatic polarisation, and class war]. 

Turning back to the subcultural response, these do win space, and are not just ideological. They also provide these horizontal and vertical links, discussed above. Styles express these notions of solidarity, and rituals embody them: rituals enable people to live through their contradictions, but do not offer a resolution of them. The authors prefer an Althusserian phrase here to replace Cohen's notion of magical solution -- rituals enable people to maintain an imaginary lived relation to the real conditions of their existence. This is a specifically general solution, not focused on specifics like families, schools, or neighbourhoods which socialise people into their parental culture. Youth cultures arise in the space between school and work, when leisure or unemployment detaches youth temporarily: this can also produce the fetishisation of leisure common among youth. 

The sources of style derive from the raw materials provided by the parent culture, together with the immediate focal concerns of the group and the immediate signs of them. The signs will often be clothes, dress, music and, rituals, and argot. Commercial culture has an influence too, but, as with all the other inputs, it can be reworked, re-signified, stitched together with other things, as in bricolage, or developed 'in homology' with focal concerns, or re-crystallised from commercial cultures  [this section refers frequently to Willis's first book Profane Cultures -- see brief notes, especially on his methodology, here]. 

They can be middle-class variants too, such as Bohemians [early hippies] and political activists [ in middle class causes -- CND, student activists, gay liberationists etc]. These also reflect the values of their parental culture [derived, incidentally, from some very old sociological work on the core values of middle- and working-class groups, and often used to stereotype the latter] -- they tend to be individual rather than collective, retreatist rather than reconstructionist  (pages 59 - 63). These too help produce a hegemonic crisis, because the middle-class is also frightened by social and technological change, and the threats to the work ethic from affluence and the challenge of hedonistic youth cultures. These subcultures [only these ones?] can vary in the degree of opposition to the system that they offer: they can even be functional in signalling the need for social change, and they can be re-commercialised as in the concept  [Marcuse's] of  'repressive desublimation'. 

Finally, there is a need to examine social reaction, especially those described as a moral panics, or social control. These too are the signs of an absent hegemony. [Presumably, an absent dominant ideology, at the end of hegemony, so to speak,or am I getting confused again between hegemony and dominant ideology?]

Overall, youth cultures offer the  'first phenomenal form of the cultural crisis' (page 65). The ideas and practices introduced are often adaptive rather than revolutionary, some are clearly commercial, some are anti-science, over-ideological and individualistic. However, they did breed  'disaffiliation' [rising expectations?], and are not entirely absorbable. Some members became radicalised after meeting excessive policing, and developed radical politics. But it is still difficult to linking youth cultures with working class politics  [that is, proper politics] -- there is a  'double divergence' between them, and an inevitable transitoriness for youth culture. Nevertheless, despite being imaginary solutions, youth cultures have persisted within dominant culture, and offer a potential rupture with it -- they do prefigure change and put questions on the political agenda.

And now some specific pieces -- NB I have not presented an exhaustive list of chapters here, but I have tried to select the more interesting and famous ones

Hebdige D  'The Meaning of Mod'

The term mod refers to any representative of  'swinging London' , from art college students to the new  'important people', mild cultural experimenters like Lord Snowden [once married to Princess Margaret, and once famous for wearing polo-necked sweaters instead of shirts and ties, the little tinker!]. Hebdige is mostly interested in working-class teenagers in London and the South [why? These were politically more significant?]

This group emerged out of working-class dandies who had developed an 'Italian' look  [single-breasted three-button suits, winkle-picker shoes, long greasy well-combed slick hair, if I remember it correctly]. Mods developed an absorption for distinctive clothes first, then adopted the scooter, then pills  [speed], and R&B clubs. There was no initial real antagonism with rockers  [I think it was Cohen who had argued that the press had exaggerated the differences and amplified the conflicts, and Hebdige agrees]. The real antagonism came from the respectable members of the old order --  for example, the traditional holiday makers and those who catered for them at Margate (a traditional seaside resort and scene of one of the Bank Holiday 'invasions' by mods). 

Mods wore smart clothes, but they still looked odd or out of place, even menacing. They needed to be  'sharp' and to demonstrate savoir - faire, as young Italian/American and black Jamaicans did (and as some of the home-grown British types did too --like spivs and 'wide boys' --  page 89). Another influence came from the influx of British gangsters [the Krays, the Richardsons and their cronies again] into public life, including life in the West End  [the fashionable theatre and club area in London].  '...many working-class teenagers followed their elders into the previously inviolable citadels of Soho and Westminster'. Hebdige says mods liked the element of danger and fantasy associated with British gangsterism, itself best understood as heavily influenced by American cinema.

Hebdige cites the list of characteristics of mods, derived from a interview with a mod, published in the Sunday Times, as a  'group fantasy'. The diary of a  mod made it seem as if they went clubbing every night, and Hebdige thinks this is amphetamine-fuelled exaggeration. He compares this with a survey of 43 Margate offenders, who were largely in menial even if white-collar occupations [pretty slim methodologically - these were offenders who had been caught by the police, presumably, and so were probably not typical] . Mods were following the  'upward option' , but only as a fantasy, and in leisure time, as a compensation for the absence of any real social mobility (or of any real clubland scene in the outer suburbs in the 1970s). This lifestyle was exacerbated by the use of speed, providing the relentless and restless energy of the mod, although there was also an underlying recognition of the problems of getting old (lyrics from several hits by the Who and the Rolling Stones are cited as evidence). Mods enjoyed consumption too.

However, mod was pure unadulterated style, involving a  'semantic rearrangement' of the key commodities like scooters, pills, and standard evaluations by respectable people like teachers -- as in the famous study of school counter cultures by Hargreaves [not cited], these evaluations were simply inverted to confer status  (page 93). Hebdige refers especially to the appropriation of amphetamines (a drug prescribed for neurotics) and the scooter, as well as neat clothes. Mod style offered an indirect criticism of straight society, having learned ( at school) that direct confrontation was likely to prove ineffective. They offered a parody of consumer society, as in the excessive neatness of the clothing [somewhat later, in another book, Hebdige was to refer to this as  'ironic neatness']. Mods enjoyed symbolic victories,  'theatrical but ultimately enigmatic gestures' like Bank Holiday brawls, which got publicity, and which seeemd meaningful to those who were there: these cries of triumph were 'for a romantic victory, a victory of the imagination; ultimately for an imagined victory' (page 94). Ultimately, the old order survived, since it was able to  incorporate the stylistic challenge, and it often simply failed to notice the 'magical transformations of commodities...The state continued to function perfectly no matter how many of Her Majesty's colours were defiled and draped around the shoulders of skinny pill-heads in the form of sharply cut jackets' ( page 94)

Mods can be seen to some extent as akin to White Negros, as in the work by Norman Mailer [ I don't know this essay but Hebdige refers to:

'living on the pulse of the present, resurrected after work only by a fierce devotion to leisure, and creating through the dynamics of his personality (or more accurately through the dynamics of the the collective personality of the group), a total style armed, albeit inadequately, against a patronising adult culture, and which need look no further than itself for its justification and its ethics.' (page 94)]
This self contained collective style was bound to be exploited in the end, though, as the mod was forced to 'use [the] commodities directed specifically at a mod market by a rapidly expanding pop industry...Style was manufactured from above instead of being spontaneously created from within' (page 94). Hebdige was to make a similar point in his later work about the incorporation and demise of punk.

Overall, this is an early and interesting piece of work, but still an odd one. I complain about 'methods' in more detail below   (after Chambers' piece), and they are a problem here. Hebdige works with newspaper articles, pop lyrics, literary essays, the results of an offender survey and his own poetic imagination -- were you convinced by his account and if so, why? 

Finally, it is worth reading the Note that precedes this piece ( written by the editors?):

'...[Hebdige] examines the way objects and things were borrowed by the Mods from the world of consumer commodities, and their meaning transformed by the way they were reworked into a new stylistic ensemble. This involved expropriating the meanings given to things by the dominant consumer culture, and incorporating them in ways which expressed subcultural rather than dominant values...This analysis gives empirical substance to the argument that sub-cultures live their relation to their real situation as an "imaginary" relation' [my emphasis] (page 87)
This is one interpretation, of course, but it seems a rather desperate attempt to politicise Hebdige's views in line with the editors' own views. The subcultural values were hardly politically effective -- a mild irony and inversion produced only an air of menace, or an uneasy feeling that mods were somehow 'out of place', if, indeed, they were noticed at all. It is possible to see this rather sad fantasy life as a classic  'imaginary relation' if you insist on doing so, but must we do so? (Hebdige himself seems to eschew such terms and, if he uses any theoretical material at all, it seems to be based on Cohen, classic work on school countercultures, or Norman Mailer). Given the strong commitment to this modifed Althusserian slogan, I think just about any study could be seen as giving 'empirical substance' to it. Incidentally, it is doubtful whetherAlthusser himself would have approved of the business of seeking 'empirical substance' for his arguments, which smacks of 'empiricism' ( the belief that there is a world independent of theory which contains privileged 'facts'): only theoretical concepts generate knowledge, and this knowledge cannot be appropriated by bolting on some theory post hoc

Clarke J  'The Skinheads and the Magical Recovery of Community'

The social dynamic behind this youth culture is  'the worsening situation of the lower working class', and their social exclusion, not only for mainstream life, but from other youth cultures, especially from the Underground. Clarke uses several quotes from a novel about skinheads (The Paint House) as 'evidence' here  [!]. Apparently, skinheads hated those who got on in society, as well as other outsiders such as Jews,  'Pakis',  'wogs' and hippies. Theirs was a defensively organised collective, based on the image of working-class community, with obvious exaggerations  [industrial clothing, extremely short hair, tough swagger, and so on]. Skinheads can be seen as a modern, imaginary, and exaggerated version of the old working-class 'mobs', who used to monopolise certain areas of London -- hence their excessive territoriality, with the football ground as a focal point. Exaggerated toughness led to Paki-bashing and queer-bashing  (where the term 'queer' referred to anyone who was odd)  [much as the term 'poof' does today]. Their reliance on imagery also leads to excessive violence, since there are no real social controls in the Imaginary. The subculture shows both the classic continuity and discontinuity with the parent culture. 

Hebdige D  'Reggae, Rastas, and Rudies'

Slavery determines black culture, even where there are deliberate efforts to exclude a slave background and assert a new identity  (as in Creole). Young black people feel an alienation from both slave-owning communities and from host communities, and this leads to excessive cultural or religious 'solutions' to their lived contradictions. Rastafarianism arises from such alienation, and consists of an attempt to re-centre Christianity, just like the Protestant Reformation did. The Bible is 'flung back rude'; black people are seen as the Israelites; Ethiopia stands for the whole of Africa, while the West is described as Babylon. Some of the other features of Rastafarianism are described on page 139: they include the use of parables and riddles, a belief in magic rather than knowledge, and a mystical identification with God, which leads to quietism. 

Rude boys confirm the validity of the Rastafarian perspective, and their 'new aesthetic... found a perfect form in reggae', which represents all the central cultural and religious impulses  (page 141). The history of reggae is then explained, in a rather specific manner, and not a deterministic [or particularly gramscian] one -- page 140f. 

The eventual influence of Rastafarianism channelled style into political anger, together with other influences, of course  [these are not rendered as a hegemonic crisis though]. Hebdige tells the story of how this influenced 'West Indian' [as they were then called]  youth in Britain, but then spread to  'hard mods'-- a fashion for short trousers, for example, paralleled West Indian hand-me-downs; short hair was an equivalent to short West Indian hair; both groups had a shared taste in music  [reggae and its predecessors, and some of its derivatives]. Both groups preferred ska to progressive rock, and their own independent music rather than the 'popular' material broadcast on the BBC. 

Hard mods evolved into skinheads -- 'white rudies'. But they were alienated from Rastafarian mythology, and thus felt excluded again, and split by  'race'. Some white youth decided that Rastafarians looked like hippies! [long hair? work-refusal?] There was an economic base for the split here too -- competition for work  (page 150). 

Overall, Rastafarianism offered positive experiences for black kids, both shielding and encouraging them  (page 152). 

Hebdige writes this material as if it were the result of extensive participant-observation, although we have no details of any methodology, nor, indeed, do we have any in his other article on mods (above). There is a curious appendix to this chapter, written by someone called R. Powell, which claims to provide some evidence for the material base of street-boy culture. It actually cites a number of statistics, largely bourgeois statistics, about economic growth, unemployment, and its unequal impact on black kids. 

Chambers I  'A Strategy for Living'

This piece also turns on the legacy of slavery and how it affects black experience in Britain: in this case, black experiences  'worked up into music' which is relatively autonomous from white culture  (the theoretical legitimacy for this notion of autonomy is drawn from Marx and The 18th Brumaire... page 158). Black experience was fitted into the issue of class and race differently in the USA, via their relations with poor whites -- black people were the backbone of radical Unionism of the 1930s, and suffered containment via the civil rights movement and  'integrated racism' (including policies of divide and rule by both expansionary capital and sectional politics, including Black Power). 

White people were able to re-define black music, using their cultural power, but black people were in a better position to actually create music, and to code experience, because of their social solidarity. One appropriation is characterised by Presley, and the whole movement of and for white teenagers -- rock music became a  'dream of teenage success'. Black music remained though -- and Chambers offers a detailed and specific history of its characteristic forms, including practices like call-and-response  [and much of this was to be developed in his own later work Urban Rhythms]. 

Overall, this is an interesting piece, but there are some worries: 

  1. There is the issue of evidence, as always 
  2. There is the view that slavery serves as some defining original, master experience, and there are some problems with this, rather as with the notion that working-class experience acts as some permanent collective memory across generations. Whether slavery continues to affect the experience of black British youth is debatable. And as Hebdige was later to argue, collective memories have been heavily affected by the mass media, so that it is doubtful whether they do just 'speak' immediately. 
  3. There is a good deal of  'fine writing', a practice common to many CCCS writers, and other cultural studies practitioners, which finds great and huge significance in the minutiae of dress and and musical style, often simply taking the views of the participants themselves about this significance. This point is linked to the first one about evidence, of course: together they walk innocently into a post-modern critique that suggests that  'fine writing', nicely involving writing, realist writing is what convinces us, instead of any evidence.
  4. There is an odd shift from marxist politics and theory to actual specific and more concrete histories, both with Chambers and Hebdige. The history just doesn't seem to need the marxism, and vice versa. This was to lead to some problems inside gramscianism, on other occasions when specific and detailed histories were combined with overall theories of 'hegemony'. Eventually, both Hebdige and Chambers came close to rejecting the 'subculture' approach, arguing that the social factors of 'race', class or gender did not explain enough of the specific changes, themes and influences : to be brief about this, earlier styles and musical forms themselves influenced later ones, perhaps more than any other factor (a note in Hebdige's chapter on mod implies that mod values were also an inversion of hippy values and a reaction to rocker values, as much as an expression of a 'lived relation' etc). Hebdige's and Chambers's histories are the thin ends of wedges here.
Clarke J  'Style'

Leisure offers relative freedom compared to the tight control of work, and some real power over the providers. It is still a site of struggle however. Nevertheless leisure offers  'forms of expression of the whole experience of a class' (page 176), but real material concerns are also displaced into the symbolic. This displacement can be read as an homology [ see Willis on this], as with the connection between manliness in football and at work  [or, later between looseness and music for hippies, or between bikers and rock music], or as a crystallisation in different forms. It also displays bricolage, often with the oppositional intent of generating a new fashion. Despite such symbolic efforts, a group must still recognize itself in its choice of objects, this alone requires the development of self-consciousness and the realisation of the objective possibilities in an object. 

Styles are specific because they determining conditions are specific, acting as  'particular local consequences of broader social movements'. They are further shaped by reactions from outsiders, although not exclusively so. The role of the media is noted, together with other clarifiers, including cultural commentators. Styles serve as a claim to status and identity  -- and also to stigmatisation. 

This sort of activity is easy to exploit -- for example stereotypes are used both to sell and condemn participants. Styles also always open to decoding: the media widen the  'cultural space'; youths themselves create new styles, sometimes in the role of paid forecasters. This leads to the danger of mere  'consumption styles', which managed to  'evade the concrete realities of class'. 

Thus styles lead to a  'magical resolution'and get incorporated within hegemony  (page 189). This happens because they are leisure based, which suppresses work, attempt to transform rather than generate alternatives, and are based on consumption rather than the commodity form. They are thus active only at the  'weak points of the socialisation chain' [precisely as in functionalism then?] -- thus macho is soon dissolved by girlfriends when they eventually arrive. Longer careers might be available for middle-class groups, however. 

McRobbie A and Garber J  'Girls and Subcultures'

Girls are absent, stereotyped or marginalised in the usual work on subcultures. Willis simply ignores girls in his study  [Learning to Labour? Profane Cultures?] -- perhaps it was difficult for him to research them, or perhaps he encountered female resistance? Females can retreat or be aggressive rather than following the dominant masculine definitions. Sex and gender should be added to the structuring conditions. Perhaps girls will find different careers in subcultures than boys or perhaps they are more marginal on every dimension. 

It is common to see girls as doubly marginal, as occupying a  'structured secondariness'  (page 211). They may be central but in a subordinate sphere of family and domestic life. They might also form different subcultures, like those of fans, rather than pursuing active leisure options. 

The neglect of girls might be explained by the argument that intellectuals tend to identify with the more powerful deviants  (page 212), or perhaps it is that male activities are more newsworthy. Girls are excluded by both low wages at work and particular demands at home, and are thus victims of a double sexual standard  [in academic terms at this time] It is, and defined incorporation of their teenage goods into a  'culture of the bedroom' [ much cited since], or to find them involved as fans, rather than as participants, especially after the rise of female pop stars. They barely participated as Teds, but were more visible as skinheads, and appeared in the softer subcultures like mod and hippy. More research is needed on this, but not by simply following the subcultural option. 

Where girls are visible, they appear as stereotypes, as in the motorbike girl, common as a press image. This only disguised the real subordination of women in the bikers' world [quoting Hunter Thompson -- a journalistic and sensationalist account of American Hell's Angels!]. There were mod girls who worked in boutiques: mod cool was less confrontational for parents, and offered greater opportunities to participate in a more feminised culture. Sexual confidence grew with access to the contraceptive pill and so on, but this still did not break the traditional female role as carer or as family-based. Hippy culture offered more space for women, but maintained the stereotyped images. 

There are some alternatives where girls organise themselves -- as teeny boppers for example. Bedroom culture offers a chance of participation, with no fear of rejection, and it can even be seen as a form of resistance, so that the obsessions with the media stars are used to resist teachers' definitions (page 221). However, this sort of culture is also fantasised and sexually manipulative. 

Overall, girls' culture is an insulated one, excluding boys, undesirable girls, adults, teachers and researchers (page 222). 

My comments on McRobbie and Garber

McRobbie was to return to this theme in a number of famous pieces later in her career, of course, and again we can see the thin end of the wedge: not only were girls inexplicably omitted from mainstream study, but there are doubts about whether concepts such as  'subcultures' can be stretched to fit their activities. In other words, apparently universal concepts might be gendered. Female students at CCCS were to be inspired to produce their own 'special' publication -- Women Take Issue -- to pursue these and other issues. One, which I discussed in my 1992 book, concern the relevance of Gramsci and gramscian concepts -- to be brief, explorations of family, domestic, and emotional areas were seen to be beyond the scope of this kind of marxist theory. 

Finally, it is worth noiting the tricky ambiguity to be managed in these accounts -- girls were different and did not engage in spectacular street subcultures like bikers and Teds did.Yet we are not to see this as quietism or conformity - if we did, we might easily reproduce the stereotype of girls as weak and easily controlled. We have to grasp things like 'bedroom culture' as a different kind of resistance - bedroom culture does help girls develop their own sense of identity against straight people like teachers. Many evolutions of this view were to follow, as researchers studied similar mixtures of  'acommodation and resistance', or sometimes 'resistance within acommodation', say in the behaviour of black and Asian girls at school. A cycnic (such as myself) might suggest we can simply add this one to all the other double concepts like 'relative autonomy', 'double articulations', 'hegemonic crisis and settlement' and the like as inoculatory strategies, designed to keep fundametnal criticism at bay.

Corrigan P and Frith S  ' The Politics of Youth Culture'

The debate tends to be characterised by the old dominant ideology approach. This argued that working-class deviants rebel because they have accepted dominant values but failed to achieve them  [Merton's anomie theory?]. But what of the institutional context? What about when the working-class creates culture via concrete struggles, via politics? [ This is an empirical point, based on cases where these creative moments have been described and charted, or is it a theoretical point, which 'must' follow from the desire to defend marxist activism?]

We need to refer to Gramsci [of course] and to his account of strategies of the State. Thus education can be seen as the imposition of bourgeois forms, rather than merely offering knowledge. These forms are imposed but not always excepted, and operate at the institutional level, but not always at the level of experience. As a result, school is a battle ground. 

Working-class experience is still the source of conflict, even in bourgeois institutions, and it persists across generations [but see above]. As a potential labour force, this experience  is carried into all bourgeois institutions  (with a reference to Althusser here), leading to an overdetermination of struggle  [that is, adding to the local tensions already found in those institutions]. Popular culture is another site of struggle, which exploits working-class kids, but does not usually manipulate them entirely: there are differences between institutional and ideological incorporation [in other words, kids might go along with the values of those institutions while there are there, but not actually believe them -- quite an important point which other contributors to this collection need to bear in mind]. Popular culture is at least lively, and thus provides some precondition for struggle at least. 

Final comments

We have seen some general theory and some specific analyses, and identified some problems with them -- which doesn't mean to say we can just dismiss all this work, of course. But what do you  think about how they fit together? Do the specific analyses lend anything to the general theory? Do they support it? Have they tested it in any sense -- or have they just agreed to 'bolt on' the theory while they were there, so to speak?