Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Subcultures and Deviance

This week we discussed subcultures and deviance, so I decided to watch a local band practice for their upcoming gig to try and find out if they were a subculture, and hopefully a deviant one.

The member of the band who let me come watch their practice a few times and take pictures on a few visits, who I’ll refer to as H.O. throughout the post, is the electric guitarist. He’s an artist, and dropped out of high school to pursue his dreams for the last 2 or 3 years. The rest of the members didn’t want to be named, even by initials, but their professions range from teachers to editors to radio broadcasters, but all produce some form of art. Three of the members, including H.O., are permanent members, while the others come in and out depending on their day jobs. They perform mostly experimental and rock music, and practice in one of their homes.

One aspect of non-material culture I noticed that really narrowed them down as their own little subculture was the language they used – they referred to different “sets” they wanted to practice and had different names for instruments, their positions in the band, the level of volume they were playing at, and ways of signaling when they were taking a break. They come from all over the world, so they speak English as their common language and it was fascinating to see how they adapted their own slang. Although certain terms were borrowed, this group definitely created many because they had specific references to the band itself weaved in the language.

I (happily) noted a lot of deviance from the regional norm in their material and non-material culture. From the cigarettes and ashtrays scattered around the room, to the unfamiliar looking bottles next to the mike stands, and even their hipster-style and grunge styles of clothing. On one particular day, H.O wears a pair of purple skinny jeans and black sneakers, has an unusually styled goatee and a thick-framed pair of black glasses on. His band mates are dressed similarly, with the girls in espadrilles and both males and females in colored blazers and hoodies. The heavily printed clothes they are wearing are not of a style that originated anywhere in the Gulf region or even the MENA region – definitely not the norm, and could even be seen as a form of resistance. The substances they consume and the music they play go hand in hand with the style of clothes they have adopted, and again seemed to me like signs of deviance, although maybe not to most, but definitely mark them out from the crowd.

In class we discussed how subcultures are shaped by globalization and this band is definitely a result of the flow of culture from an external source and into Qatar, where the band members all live. The style of clothes and music that they have chosen to consume, as previously discussed, definitely come from somewhere else. Speaking of consumption, just as was stated in class, their subculture is based mostly on just that – purchasing a style from the supermarket of style and creating an identity out of it. Ironically, they decided to have McDonald’s for dinner after practice, topping of the globalization sundae.

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