20 Examples of Subcultures From Around the World

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In society, the dominant culture often sets the standards that everyone follows. Most people enjoy being part of the larger cultural society. Within the dominant cultures are subcultures that distinguish themselves from the traditional values established by the mainstream culture. Subcultures create their own principles and standards for political, sexual, and cultural issues. These subcultures maintain their group identity while being part of mainstream society. There are various examples of subcultures, including musical, youth, religious, online, and ethnic. These types usually feature one or more subcultures that separate themselves from the other groups. 

What Is a Subculture?

Subcultures are social groups that are beneath the dominant culture. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes subculture as “an ethnic, regional, economic, or social group exhibiting characteristic patterns of behavior sufficient to distinguish it from others within an embracing culture or society.”

The individuals in these social groups have similar views and lifestyles. Some subcultures have a strict dress code that each individual follows, while other subcultures have no dress code, emphasizing fashion and individuality while maintaining the characteristics of the group. 

Where Do They Come From?

Subcultures form when the dominant culture doesn’t satisfy the interests or demands of specific individuals. Subculture members participate in activities or lifestyles that fulfill their needs and interests through shared experiences relating to their individuality. 


Subculture membership varies from group to group. Many groups have no strict rules and depend on the individual. Some people relate to the subculture but don’t wholly invest in one group. Others might have associations with members of the same group or borrow fashion ideas from different groups. Other groups, such as the Amish or street gangs, have a clear set of rules that each member adheres to. They wear similar clothing and rarely differentiate from the subculture. 

Subculture and Pop Culture

Unlike subculture, pop culture is the dominant group in society that appeals to the larger group. In the 90s, sitcoms like Friends and Seinfeld were cultural phenomenons that impacted how the dominant group acted, talked, and dressed. This is a great example of pop culture and how it differs from subculture. 

Subculture vs. Counterculture

Counterculture is different from subculture in that it’s in direct opposition to the dominant culture. Counterculture groups provide alternate ways of life to the larger group while pushing for social change.

Subculture and counterculture share one main similarity: they challenge the norms of society, including political ideology, ideas of youth, social class, femininity, and masculinity. The dominant group is skeptical of subcultures and countercultures which often leads to a moral panic and lots of fuss over nothing. 

Ethnic Subculture Groups

An ethnic subculture is a group within a specific minority group. For example, Reggae and dancehall are Caribbean subcultures popular with Caribbean people. However, artists like Bob Marley, Beanie Man, and Sean Paul helped popularize the music around the globe. Another example is the Indian subculture of Bollywood. Bollywood is even famous outside of India in countries like Canada and the United States, which watch and produce Bollywood movies.

20 Examples of Subcultures

There are many different subcultures in different parts of the world. They often gain members in various countries and continents. Here is a look at 20 of the most popular. 

1. Hippies

examples of subcultures

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In the mid-1960s and early 70s, hippies emerged as one of the most influential countercultures of the 20th century. In the United States, hippies’ roots derived from the youth subculture of the 1960s. Members of the group believed in socialism and free love and strongly opposed the Vietnam War. This subculture was also known for instigating the sexual revolution and its admiration of psychedelic music and art. The movement reached its pinnacle during the Summer of Love in 1969. By the mid-70s, the movement began to fade but had a lasting impact. 

2. Hip-Hop


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The hip-hop subculture originated at block parties in the Bronx, New York City, in the mid-1970s. It began as a platform for disenfranchised youth from Black, Caribbean, and Latino American cultures to express themselves. The youth would address the hardships, poverty, racism, police brutality, and social, political, and economic difficulties they encountered.

Jamaican immigrants and African-Americans influenced the style, with artists such as DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash being pioneers of hip-hop in the late 70s and early 80s. The period from 1987 to 1996 is considered the Golden Age of hip-hop, which saw the emergence of iconic artists, including Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Public Enemy, and the N.W.A. 

3. Hipsters


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Hipsters are easily recognizable by their skinny jeans, big glasses, twirled mustaches, and full beards. It’s hard to miss their unique and ironic fashion sense as they tour the city on their bicycle or unicycle. This subculture first appeared in the 1940s but made a comeback in the 21st century.

Despite being counterculture, the fashion style went mainstream in the 2010s. Hipsters often receive criticism for embracing conformity, although they believe they are unique in their way of life. In the hipster subculture, the term “hipster” is considered offensive and not something they want to be labeled. 

4. Punk


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In the 1970s, punk rock exploded onto the scene, becoming one of the most noteworthy youth musical subcultures. While the original wave of punk rock only lasted a few years, it had a substantial impact on society. It’s a complex subculture that influenced other subcultures. Emerging in the 20th century in the United States and the United Kingdom, punk rockers rejected mainstream culture, principles, art, politics, and lifestyle.

They were often anti-corporate and had a strict code about selling out to major music labels. They also had a unique style, favoring Dr. Martens’s boots, colorful mohawks, and leather jackets. Early pioneers were The Ramones, Sex Pistols, and The Clash. The groundbreaking subculture influenced modern bands like Green Day and Blink 182. 

5. Hackers



The creation of the Internet and social media gave rise to the subculture of hackers. Hackers have a knack for gaining entry into the darkest corners of the web to uncover repressed online data. Some hackers collect data through illegal channels, while others work for the government or companies to test security software. Hackers usually work together in hackathons to develop ways to break into networks. 

6. Goths


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The gothic music subculture arose from punk rock in the United Kingdom. In the 1980s, bands like Joy Division adopted post-punk gothic rock. People who are part of this subculture often have an androgynous fashion sense and wear pale face blush, black nail polish, dark eyeliner, and all-black clothing. 

7. The Beat Generation



In the 1950s, the Beat Generation began to develop and quickly influenced music and pop culture. The literary movement had a profound impact throughout the 20th century and beyond. Known as Beatniks, poets, and writers such as Allan Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac introduced the free-flowing style in their books Howl and On The Road, respectively.

These authors often dealt with themes of existentialism, examining human existence and its purpose. They also expressed empathy for communism, setting off a moral panic. The term Beatnik combines the “Beat Generation” and the Soviet Union satellite, Sputnik.

8. Mods


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Stanley Cohen created the idea of “moral panic” after the violent brawls between the rockers and Mods in the UK. In the 1950s and 60s, the British subculture, Mods, was known for riding around on Vespa scooters in their tailor-made suits. Their name comes from the fact that modern jazz was at the center of the subculture. The mod and rocker riots in the 60s caused an excessive fear of the rival youth subcultures. Eventually, the working class group of mods broke off to form a new subculture, the skinheads, which developed into a neo-Nazi subculture that everybody can agree sucks. 

9. Cosplayers


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Every year at Comic Con, comic book geeks, and sci-fi nerds come to the event dressed as their favorite superheroes, movie character, or cartoon. Better known as cosplayers, the name of the subculture comes from the phrase “costume play.” People from around the world travel to Comic Con and similar events to cosplay in funny, cool, and sexy costumes and hang with like-minded people.  

10. Skinheads


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In the 1960s, the working-class mod members left to form their own subculture, skinheads. They began in opposition to mods and hippies. They strongly disagreed with the concept of free love and middle-class values.

skinheads initially united various social groups around reggae, ska, and R&B music. But as they got more popular, a group of skinheads split to create far-right neo-Nazi groups. Several skinheads oppose the idea of a far-right neo-Nazi group representing them, leading to clashes between various skinhead subcultures.

11. Surf Culture



Surf culture is synonymous with a laid-back vibe and chilled-out beach music. It slowly gained popularity throughout the 20th century but exploded in Southern California in the 1960s. The love of surfing and the sun spread to Australia and Hawaii. Surfers are known for being territorial, claiming their local surf breaks as their own. Surf culture also has its own subcultures that include ocean environmentalism and big wave surfers. 

12. Ski Bums



The ski bums subculture is similar to the surf culture. In fact, they often overlap between the winter and summer seasons. It has a similar relaxed and chilled vibe as surf culture. It’s very popular in the North American Rockies and the Alps in Europe. The subculture is famous for its distinctive jargon and fashion sense. While many ski bums surf in the summer, a subset follows the snow from the Northern to Southern hemispheres and back. 

13. Grunge



In the late 1980s and early 90s, bands like Pearl Jam and the Stone Temple Pilots helped usher in the subculture known as grunge. However, the undisputed leaders of the grunge movement were the iconic Kurt Cobain and his band Nirvana.

With the birth of grunge in Seattle, Nirvana brought the Seattle Sound to a larger audience. Music critics and historians regard Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as the ultimate grunge anthem, capturing the mood of the movement. 




In the last several years, the LGBTQI subculture has gained widespread acceptance. They still have obstacles to overcome, but recent laws ensured recognition and legitimacy. There are various subcultures in the group, including a political organization that fights for the rights of the group. Furthermore, they have the famous Rainbow flag that represents the subculture. Within the subculture, numerous subsets also have a distinctive flag representing the group. 

15. K-Pop


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Korean pop is a subculture popular among the Korean youth that has spread around the world. Better known as K-Pop, it utilizes hip-hop and lively pop music to create chart-topping hits. The fashion sense combines hip-hop styles, streetwear, and bandanas to create a mesmerizing spectacle. One of the most popular K-Pop songs, “Gangnam Style,” became a viral hit in 2012, while the all-girl group BLACKPINK solidified their popularity with headlining sets at Coachella 2023. 

16. Steampunk



Steampunk combines the primitive Victorian industrial era steam-powered machinery and gear with futuristic technology and science fiction. With retro-futuristic themes, steampunk has dramatically influenced literature, fashion, art, and film.

The movies Wild Wild West, The Golden Compass, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen all have a heavy steampunk influence. Steampunk is also related to cosplay, as many Steampunk fans dress up as their favorite characters for Comic Con.

17. Emos



Emos are known for wearing gauge earrings, skinny jeans, all-black clothing, and dyed hair that gently hangs over their face. In the 2000s, the gloomy and moody emo subculture appeared on the music scene. Also known as emotional music, emo bands such as Weezer, Simple Plan, The Used, Dashboard Confessional, My Chemical Romance, and Jimmy Eat World took inspiration from gothic rock and pop punk to create the emo sound that still resonates today. 

18. Graffiti Artists



Graffiti artists convert building walls, train carriages, and sidewalks into incredible le pieces of art. The subculture encompasses a large group of people who all have different motivations. The graffiti includes everything from breathtaking art with a message to something as simple as a tag. It’s also an act of rebellion, notably with political graffiti. Some graffiti artists are gang members who leave their calling card or claim territory with their tags. Once frowned upon, governments and councils now commission graffiti art, showing how far this subculture has come. 

19. Drum and Bass


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Influenced by Jamaican dub and reggae, drum and bass music became immensely popular in the 1990s. It uses electronic music with heavy bass and rapid beats. The subculture quickly grew in popularity across Europe and helped pave the way for modern electronic music, influencing house music and EDM.

20. Skaters


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Rolling into the 20th century, skaters are a subculture who all share one common similarity: they love skateboarding. In the 1980s, it became even more popular, setting off the skateboarder craze. There are two main styles in the subculture. Tony Hawk popularized vert skating, commonly done in empty pools, while the other style finds street skaters performing tricks in public areas and on the street. 

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