First thoughts on “subcultural innovation”

After the weekend’s free culture festival, which me and my friends threw together, I’ve pondered the ideas and concepts behind “amateur” creativity. Not necessarily lower quality compared to “professional” creations. It’s rather that the creativity stems from something else than aiming for economical profit.

Please note that I do not necessarily mean the socialist let’s-be-hippies kind of “value beyond profit”. However, I often argue that creativity spawns a higher quality of life. It may also act as some sort of cognitive therapy – or just simply mean that one is interested in something. Having an enjoyable experience besides work to spend time on increases happiness – which is a rather accepted theory.

In either case, one of the happenings during this event was Simon Lindgren, professor in sociology at the University of Umeå, who talked about internet and participatory culture. Apparently something good came out for him too, as he writes in a blog post about his talk at CCOU:

I have been toying for some time with the idea of writing something about what I would call “subcultural innovation”, and this experience fuelled these ideas even more.

When I read this I was very excited. Just the phrase “subcultural innovation” got me really inspired and I repeated it for myself a couple of times. It meant so much at the same time! The post I’m writing now is generally just to make my mind settle and perhaps inspire someone else to ponder the subject as well.

What is subcultural innovation, and what does it encompass? Several questions flew through my mind which I’m still digesting:

  • Is a subculture merely the derivative (or “extreme”) culture of something more ordinary (“mainstream”)? Given time, will they converge?
  • Could a subculture perhaps also be the combination (“crossover”?) of several mainstream themes, to create a combined derivative? Or will this merely be a culture ex “sub”?
  • Are countercultures actually subcultures, despite their oppository devotion? More specifically, is the antithesis actually a part of the thesis?
  • Most importantly: Can subcultures be stand-alone?

I believe these are important questions, added some further odd thoughts, which I need answers for in order to have a chance to deduce anything given the fascinating term subcultural innovation. I can definitely say I’m very excited about this.

One thought on “First thoughts on “subcultural innovation””

  1. It is great to hear that you are inspired by the concept of “subcultural innovation”. I have come up with this term as part of an attempt to combine the older youth culture theories from the cultural studies field with new literatures and terminologies within the field of new media studies. Actually, I will soon write a book proposal to an international publisher. Working title: “Pirate culture: Tales from the frontier of subcultural innovation”. We will see what happens along the way… People such as yourself, and your contacts may surely be important once the project is underway.

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