What Are Examples of Countercultures?

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Historical examples of countercultures include the American hippies of the 1960s and the Beat poets and writers of the 1950s. Modern examples of countercultures include homeschooling families and militant groups who rebel against government control. A counterculture is any subculture whose values are significantly different from the mainstream culture.

The term “counterculture” is widely attributed to cultural theorist Theodore Roszak. The term became used to describe the hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which rebelled against conventional American middle-class values and took an oppositional stance on contemporary issues like the Vietnam War, civil rights, women’s rights, drug use, sexual mores and race relations. The hippies were one of the first countercultural groups to have their views represented in popular media, which allowed their ideas to spread more widely than previous countercultural groups.

Although the term is often associated with alternative groups like hippies and punks, a counterculture is any group whose views differ significantly from the mainstream. This includes groups like the KKK, the white supremacist organization whose views on race relations place them far outside of the dominant culture. Families that choose to homeschool their children are part of a counterculture because they refrain from using public schools, which is a major facet of traditional culture.