What Is the Difference Between Subculture and Counterculture?

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A subculture is a small segment of people that operate within the framework of the dominant culture. In contrast, a counterculture is a group of people with shared values that go against one or more significant values of the dominant culture.

Subcultures have distinct values or shared interests that aren’t popular among the majority of people in the larger culture. However, they share in their interests in a way that doesn’t violate or contradict what the majority values. Musical interest is a common factor in the formation of a subculture. Glam rock, punk rock, and grunge music were associated with subcultures that also shared in fashion styles and attitudes. Other examples of subcultures include biker groups, jocks and role-playing gamers.

A counterculture is often viewed as deviant by society because the values and behaviors of group members rebel against what cultural values dictate. One of the largest counterculture groups in American history was the “hippies.” It consisted of people who spoke and acted out against the Vietnam War. In addition, hippies took on certain fashion styles and behavioral choices. The Ku Klux Klan is one of the most notorious and controversial counterculture groups. People who homeschool are considered countercultural, although their choice has become more socially accepted.