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Subcultures and Its Differentiation

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The Beatniks, Hippies and Hipsters

Throughout many generations of evolution, there have been many different “types” of people, also known as stereotypes of a subculture. These subcultures have different names that have grouped people together of certain generations that had the same hobbies, and interests. From the 1950’s till now in the 2000’s there have been three different groups of people between generations. The groups were part of a countercultural movement that rejected the mores of the mainstream American life. The countercultural movement originated on college campuses in The United States but then spread to other countries including Canada and Britain. These groups or groupies that will be focused on were known as the ‘Beatniks’, ‘Hippies’ and the ‘Hipsters’.

The beatniks came around during the “Beat Generation”. They were called the Beatniks by Herb Caen and the name came from being during the “Beat Generation” and the word ‘Sputniks’ in the late 1940s to 1950s. The Beatniks were the ‘cool’ youth of the 50’s culture. They hung around in coffee shops wearing polo necks, girls wore berets, and the guys had goatees. While hanging around in the coffee shops, they played bongos and wrote poetry. When they were in the shops, playing music, or writing, they were experimenting with Marijuana in groups. These groups were known as violent and lacking morals and rejected middle class American values. The beatniks were the group that was known 10-15 years before the Hipsters. Very different than them, but very similar.

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The subculture ‘Hippie’ was brought to the United States in the mid-1960s. The name ‘hippies’ derived from the term “hip” which was a term applied to the beats of the 1950s. Many of the individuals from the subculture weren’t actually teenagers in the 1960s, but they were either born in those years, or offspring of those born in the 60s. They were also often associated with non-violent-anti-government groups. Hippies were known to have a stigma of drug use predominant to this day such as Marijuana and Hallucinogens known as LSD. They justified this practice as a way of expanding consciousness. Many well-known popular rock movements, poets, and other artists are from the Hippie subculture such as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Phish along with the producing of Hair the musical which celebrated the hippie lifestyle. There were also well known groups such as the Beatles, Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones. The Hippies had a core belief that was revolved around the values of peace, love and happiness “make peace not war”. As they were also known as ‘Flower- children”. They favoured long hair and casual, often unconventional, dress, sometimes in “psychedelic” colours, women would many times be seen in long flowy ‘granny’ dresses. Men often grew beards and both men and women wore beads, sandals, and they both often wore what were known as rimless ‘granny’ glasses. The hippies often took up communal or cooperative living arrangements, and also lived in various types of family groups. Within their different styles of living; they often adopted vegetarian diets focusing on non-processed foods and practiced holistic medicine. They were often dropouts of society and forwent regular jobs and careers. Some of them would develop small businesses within the ‘hippies’ and catered to other hippies. Hippies pushed their openness and promoted tolerance unlike what they saw in middle-class society. Hippies were known to have a relaxed attitude toward sex and often practiced open sexual relationships. Knowing that, they had often practiced Buddhism or any other eastern religions and would many times combine them. With all of that, the hippies were also involved in the developments of the environmental movement which held the first Earth Day in 1970. To this day, The Hippies still have a huge influence on wider subcultures.

The last of the many subcultures around the world are the ‘Hipsters’. The term first appeared in the 1990s and became noticeable around 2010. They value independent thinking, counter-culture, politics, appreciation of art and indie rock, and creativity and intelligence. The greatest concentration of hipsters can be found in major diverse areas such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. In the 1990s hipster was originally known as a simple mind set, but it now more looked upon as a fashion sense in the current 2010s. Hipsters are often seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired clothing. This included tight fitting jeans, old school sneakers and sometimes they were often seen wearing thick rimmed glasses, if they wore any at all. Both men and women almost always had shaggy hair cuts, and asymmetric side-swept bangs. It is actually a myth when it is said that hipsters are usually unemployed and live off of their parents. They are very well educated despite the misconceptions about their taste, and tend to have jobs in the music, art and fashion businesses and they often hold liberal arts degrees or math and science degrees. Their hair styles are also often seen as “too edgy” for the mainstream consumers. Hipsters are influenced by androgyny and feminism, where the men are often as skinny as the women that they date, and where the women do not find muscular all American men to be attractive because both men and women believe in true, natural beauty. Men also are not appealed to women who tend to wear tube tops or have fake blonde hair without looking like themselves because the men see that as having a low self-esteem and a lack of cultural intellect. Hipsters are also known to hold the greatest number in interracial couples. The hipsters are well known around the world and is now a well-known term known more than just as a way of thinking.

Many subcultures have many differences and similarities. Each subculture had an extremely high interest in music. In the 1940s and 1950s the beatniks enjoyed playing bongos, in the 1960s there were many famous rock movements involving the hippies including Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Phish. The hipsters didn’t listen or play music as much as the other two sub cultures, but many of them did have majors in music and enjoyed learning their origins. Each and every sub culture has a distinction so people can always be able to tell them apart. The beatniks were seen as wearing berets and polo necks and they always hung out in coffee shops. The hippies were known to wear bright colours and dress casually. Lastly the Hipsters had a more vintage looks and wore tight jeans and big glasses. All subcultures came from a generation in which was important. The beatniks came from the “Beat generation” and the Hippies came from the” baby boomer/ flower children generator”. The Hipsters did not have a specific name for the generation that they came from, but it was somewhat known as the “new teen generation”. The beatniks, hippies and hipsters all experimented with Marijuana. The beatniks experimented first, but also experimented with hallucinogens but the others did not.

There are very many ways that subcultures can either be compared or differentiated. But the subcultures weren’t necessarily only seen back then. Even though the current subculture is the Hipsters, the beatniks and hippies are still noticed now among some people. There are still people that listen too much of the music that was created through each generation and subculture, many people that dress like each subculture, and also very many people who may have the same beliefs and values. We will never get away from subcultures, but some of us may also never be a part of one, but we will always be a part of a generation.


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