What is Counterculture?

Meaning of Counterculture

The word counterculture can be confusing to understand, especially when we think that its opposite, culture , is also difficult to define.

However, this expression acquired an important meaning in a youth movement that emerged in the 1960s.

Since then, speaking of counterculture has generally meant a rebellious, oppositional or critical position . To understand how this term gained such prominence, it is important to know its history. See more on the subject below.

What is the Counterculture?

There are at least two meanings. The first is more specific and refers to the movement that emerged in the United States in the 1960s.

In this sense, the counterculture was organized by young people interested in questioning traditional values ​​and Western individualism, that is, going against the dominant culture.

Second, there is a broader sense of the term. This presupposes that culture means what is the norm or what is traditional , while the counterculture would be everything that opposes those values.

Culture and Counterculture

For anthropology , culture recurrently refers to the organizations and the symbolic capacity present in human societies.

This is a sense used in scientific research, but the counterculture movement has given a more specific meaning to the term.

The movement considered culture the same as the norm, standard or traditional values. In this way, the counterculture is defined by the opposition to the established , in addition to claiming the need for a transformation of social relations.

History of the Counterculture

After World War II, what became known as the Golden Age was established in the United States.

During this period, especially after the 1950s, young people began to enter the labor market later, to enter universities more, and to establish themselves as a class of consumers .

Therefore, at that time, consumer media (movies, music, clothing) began to be produced aimed at a young audience.

Therefore, the generation that was formed in the 1960s had a strong identity . In addition, they had a sense of change and did not make the same mistakes as past generations, marked by wars.

Consequently, the 1960s counterculture was formed . The young people who participated in the movement were not conformists and wanted a cultural transformation .

Therefore, they were against capitalism, consumerism, technocracy, wars and dictatorships that were exploiting the world.

Therefore, it is important to highlight the relationship between the counterculture and the Cold War in this context.

In that sense, young people were dominant “ against culture ”. They were inspired, for example, by rock and roll, the hippie movement, the ideas of revolution through peace and love, or the slogan ” Don’t believe anyone over thirty “.

Examples of Counterculture

Counterculture is a historical term and, at the same time, it is used to characterize oppositional , revolutionary or anti-hegemony positions. Here are some examples of your current application:

  • The Hippie counterculture: It was one of the great symbols in the 1960s, preaching ideals such as ” peace and love “, against war and individualism.
  • Punk counterculture: Although it is further from the 1960s, the punk movement relates its music to ideologies and symbols of the street, anarchism and against racism.
  • Organizational Counterculture: is an appropriate expression in organizational and business studies. In other words, these are attitudes contrary to the dominant habits of an organization.

Therefore, despite the fact that counterculture is a word used in various contexts , there is a great influence of the imagery created by that historical movement of the 1960s.

Therefore, the youthful and non-conformist attitudes of that period still influence some social expressions today.

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