Some time ago, I came across a theory of sociology that holds something like the following:
- Subcultures come into existence when the mainstream culture that they are subgroups of are rejecting or neglecting some part of the human experience.
- Looking at subcultures can thus be used to see what parts of the human experience are being rejected by the mainstream culture.
- For example, this theory claims the goth subculture came into existence because society stopped explicitly acknowledging death and mourning, the emo subculture came into existence because society started repressing overt emotional displays, especially by men, the motorcycle gang subculture came into existence because society didn’t have any institutions that provided the camaraderie WW2 veterans had experienced in the war, etc.
- Some parts of this seem to be present in mainstream discourse – for instance, I’ve often heard the motorcycle gang example cited as straightforward history outside of the context of this theory – but I’m not sure that the broader theory is.
Human memory is bad – it’s possible I made this up myself or something and am misremembering – but if this has a real name and a real background I would love to hear what it is.