Difference Between Subculture and Counterculture

Subculture vs Counterculture

What is the difference between subculture and counterculture? All societies have their own cultures which might be different from each other. However, there could be subcultures and countercultures within a mainstream culture. Subcultures share the main values of the mainstream culture, but they have their own characteristics which differentiate the subculture group from the rest. On the other hand, counterculture does not share the common culture and they go against it. Counterculture is more like a deviant group in a particular community.

What does Counterculture mean?

Counterculture is a situation where a group of people go against the mainstream culture of a particular community. Usually, the members of a certain community are supposed to adhere to the socially accepted cultural and social behavioral patterns. However, there can be some groups who do not like to follow the accepted social ethics and values. Then, they form their own rules and behaviors, evading the main culture, and these groups can be identified as counter-cultural groups. The main characteristic of a counterculture is that it has its own rules and ethics, which are different from the main culture. For example, we can identify gay/lesbian people as a counterculture in certain societies where people go against the accepted social behavioral pattern. Also, a counterculture in one particular community may not be a counterculture in another community because cultures differ from each other. Moreover, countercultures show a total opposition for the mainstream or the dominant culture.

What does Subculture mean?

Subculture is also a group of people who share the values of mainstream culture, but at the same time they have their own set of identity. Subcultures do not go against the dominant culture, but they have their own way of distinguishing themselves from the main culture. For example, there can be youth subculture, university subculture, music subculture, etc. These sub-cultural groups may have their own style of dressing, own vocabulary, own set of rules, etc. and these things may reflect the dominant culture as well. Thus, they do not oppose the mainstream culture.

Difference Between Subculture and Counterculture

The members of a particular subculture may exchange his/her ideas with others using a different kind of a vocabulary which might not be understood by a non-member of the particular group. Further, some large companies have sub-cultural groups inside the company and these have helped the smooth functioning of the company as well. These groups are known as organizational cultures. However, subcultures are not a threat to a community and they define a group identity only.

What is the difference between Subculture and Counterculture?

• When we consider both counterculture and subculture, the main difference we see is that the counterculture goes against the mainstream culture whereas subculture shares the values of the main culture while adapting their own identities.

• Also, counterculture is looked down in societies but subcultures are mostly accepted.

• Counterculture in one community may not be identified as a counterculture in another community, but sub-cultural groups may be identified as same everywhere.

• Moreover, we can say that counterculture is a type of subculture because the group identifies itself different from the mainstream culture.

• When it comes to similarities, we can see that in both situations, they have their own set of rules and identities which differentiate them from the dominant culture.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Trekkies by Jason Scragz (CC BY 2.0)