The Subcultural Imagination: Theory, Research and Reflexivity in Contemporary Youth Cultures

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Shane Blackman, Michelle Kempson
Routledge, Jun 17, 2016 - Social Science - 204 pages

The Subcultural Imagination discusses young adults in subcultures and examines how sociologists use qualitative research methods to study them. Through the application of the ideas of C. Wright Mills to the development of theory-reflexive ethnography, this book analyses the experiences of young people in different subcultural settings, as well as reflecting on how young people in subcultures interact in the wider context of society, biography and history. From Cuba to London, and Bulgaria to Asia, this book delves into urban spaces and street corners, young people’s parties, gigs, BDSM fetish clubs, school, the home, and feminist zines to offer a picture of live sociology in practice. In three parts, the volume explores:

  • history, biography and subculture;
  • practising reflexivity in the field;
  • epistemologies, pedagogies and the subcultural subject.

The book offers cutting edge theory and rich empirical research on social class, gender and ethnicities from both established and new researchers across diverse disciplinary backgrounds. It moves the subcultural debate beyond the impasse of the term’s relevance, to one where researchers are fully engaged with the lives of the subcultural subjects. This innovative edited collection will appeal to scholars and students in the areas of sociology, youth studies, media and cultural studies/communication, research methods and ethnography, popular music studies, criminology, politics, social and cultural theory, and gender studies.


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Notes on contributors
rethinking the Youth Question with C Wright Mills
the case of Cuban
From bad to worse? Marginalised youth and ™Road life misrepresentations
exploring critical ventriloquy and emotional
researching the occupational subculture
applying the Chicago School approach to dual
working through fieldwork
subculture debate
Connecting personal troubles and public issues in Asian subculture studies

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About the author (2016)

Shane Blackman is a Professor of Cultural Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK. His books include Youth: Positions and Oppositions, Style, Sexuality and Schooling (1995); Drugs Education and the National Curriculum (1996) and Chilling Out: The Cultural Politics of Substance Consumption, Youth and Drug Policy (2004) and Young People, Class and Place, (eds), with Shildrick, T. and MacDonald, R. (2010). He has recently published papers on ethnography, subcultural theory, anti-social behaviour and alcohol and young women. He is an editor of the Journal of Youth Studies and YOUNG: Nordic Journal of Youth Research and a member of the ESRC Peer Review College.

Michelle Kempson is a Lecturer at Solihull College and University Centre, UK. She completed her PhD in Women and Gender studies at the University of Warwick, and her research interests and publication history centre on youth studies, adult education, feminist theory, and cultural aesthetics.

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