What is post-subcultural theory, and why is it important in understanding religion and popular culture?

Post-subcultural theory is a set of theories regarding youth culture that were developed by researchers in the early 2000s. These theories are important in that they influence the way sociologists interpret youth behavior in regard to religion and popular culture.

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Post-subcultural theory is a set of cultural theories used in sociological study to interpret the behavior of youth culture. According to Andy Bennett, it “discards the concept of subculture” that came from the Chicago School in the 1920s, which developed into what is known as the CCCS subcultural theory (de...

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Post-subcultural theory is a set of cultural theories used in sociological study to interpret the behavior of youth culture. According to Andy Bennett, it “discards the concept of subculture” that came from the Chicago School in the 1920s, which developed into what is known as the CCCS subcultural theory (de Bruin). Eventually, the concept of spectacular subculture dominated youth culture theories of the 1970s to the late 1990s. It was then challenged in the 2000s “by a new group of youth culture researchers” (Bennett) who created post-subcultural theory. It is marked by the ideas of "labels lifestyle, neo-tribes, and scenes. These theories emphasize on increased individual agency, fluidity, internal diversity, temporary commitment, and individual movement between groups" (Bennett).

This theory is important in understanding both religion and popular culture, as evidenced by two examples. New scholarship suggests that rave culture has both ritual and festal components, making it part of religious culture. Furthermore, research shows that Electronic Dance Music Culture (EDMC) demonstrations are "expressive of a religiosity that is at variance to or complicates institutional religion" (St John) such as Judaism or Christianity. Members of this culture experience the religious phenomena of belonging and the "spirituality of life" (St John). In regard to pop culture, sociologists view youth post-subcultures as "a homogenized segment with uniform consumption habits—their clothing, styles, music tastes and media habits" (Dekel, Dempsey, and Moorlock). In other words, these youths are grouping according to experiences within pop culture itself.

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