Subcultures of Influence

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

The greatest changes in culture have come through the domination of a particular subculture or scene. These are groups of people in very different fields which share a common ideal or goal and advance it through different mediums.

Think the Bloomsbury Group who sprouted the most influential people of the era from economist John Maynard Keynes to writer Virginia Woolf. The point is not whether you agree with what this group put into the world but the fact that a common subculture that contained different people in different disciplines changed the world.

Likewise, art movements such as art nouveau are so recognisable because it was not just an art movement but a recognisable aesthetic across multiple disciplines that shaped both houses (or architecture) and what went inside them (furniture, art, interior design etc).

In recent years such scenes and subcultures were mostly a teen dalliance based on the looks and music of certain bands. Probably it started through imitation of one devoted fan but took on a life of its own.

This holds across multiple generations. My mum speaks of everyone having the Flock of Seagulls Haircut whereas in my day many a teen had an emo do like My Chemical Romance.

Even for a non-emo like myself, the music of many of the bands that influenced the subculture is part of my generation. The subculture influenced a whole period of music to the point that it is basically mainstreamed.

A clear example of that is the hipster subculture which was based on indie music, and a non-mass produced look, but the popularity of which resulted in the clothes and music becoming a fashion trend.

What is even more bizarre is that the appeal of these subcultures are coming back with a Y2K look being on trend right now.

The desire to be part of a club is innate in humans. That in part explains the success of scenes and subcultures being the sources of breakthroughs in the broader culture. People want to fit into a group bigger enough to influence the world and be recognisable, but no one wants to be part of a group so big that all individuality is lost to it. Subcultures are the perfect size in that respect.

It also solves the coordination problem. The “Friendly Ambitious Nerd” Visakan Veerasamy makes the point that scenes are the best way to encourage creativity.

People don't need to reinvent the wheel. If there is a common subculture to riff off (sometimes literally) then people can play with whatever precepts or views are common to the subculture but then put an individual or creative tweak on top of it. This is where having people from different walks of life and disciplines really help as one person may create visual art from the common riff whilst another might be inspired to create mathematical equations - who knows.

This subculture effect is exactly what All Minus One was conceived to facilitate. The goal of which is precisely to have different people in different disciplines and spheres of influence come together over shared values, particularly of freedom of expression, from there who knows what projects will be sparked, but the world would be a better one if we found out.

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