Sociology Index


Counterculture or counter-culture received prominence during the youth rebellion of the 1960s and early 1970s. Counterculture in 19th century Europe included the traditions of Romanticism and Bohemianism. Counterculture is a set of cultural ideas or is a Subculture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores. Countercultures differ from and conflict with those generally upheld in the society. Hippies are a classic example of American counterculture. The hippy counterculture was in reaction to the problems of institutionalized American society. A counterculture movement expresses the aspirations and dreams of a specific population during a certain period of time, which we call a social manifestation of zeitgeist.

One can find counterculture movements even in commercial campaigns. Counter-culture refers to a group that shares common values, norms, beliefs. The term counterculture is close in meaning to subculture, but the concept of counterculture stresses the idea of an open and active opposition to dominant cultural values. A counterculture develops when members of groups identify common values that distinguish them from others.

Counterculture groups may be based on common appearance, ethnic group, sexuality, status or social behavior. Cultural equivalent of political opposition, the term counterculture is used to describe cultural groups whose values and behavioral norms run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day. Counterculture is generally used to describe a theological, cultural, attitudinal or material position that does not conform to accepted societal norms.

Counterculture In Modern Times Today

The idea of the counterculture has become fetishized and commercialized in our mainstream, neo-liberal, consumer culture. People dress up as “hippies” at music festivals that are sponsored by big name media corporations. The actions of our generation is increasingly controlled by influencers on Facebook and Instagram. According to UC Berkeley Professor Michael Cohen, the explanation with this new form of culture rather than those of the sixties lie with increased income inequality and economics.

The expression "Flower power" was coined by the American Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1965 as a means to transform war protests into peaceful affirmative spectacles. Flower power originated as a peaceful protest against the Vietnam War and became a symbol of hippie counterculture that rejected mainstream mores. Peace, alternative lifestyles, Eastern religions, psychedelic music, and drugs were some of the hallmarks of the time. Though the hippie movement began in reaction to the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, hippies were more interested in the counterculture lifestyle than the politics.

Introduction — Global Psychedelia and Counterculture
Rock Music Studies, Volume 5, 2018 - Issue 3. Kevin M. Moist (2018) Global Psychedelia and Counterculture, Rock Music Studies.
When we first talked about the idea of a special issue of Rock Music Studies on the topic of “Global Psychedelia and Counterculture,” the journal’s editors advised maintaining reasonable expectations about potential levels of interest, given the distance of the subject matter from the usual beaten paths of popular music research. The point was well-taken though; I think it’s fair to say that when most people (including most scholars of the era) think about anything “psychedelic” or “countercultural” from the 1960s and 1970s, the images in their mind look like Haight Street or Carnaby Street, Woodstock or the Isle of Wight, more so than any of the regions mentioned above.

Counterculture Through the Ages: From Abraham to Acid House
by Ken Goffman, Dan Joy.
As long as there has been culture, there has been counterculture. But until now the countercultural phenomenon has been one of history’s great blind spots. Individual countercultures have been explored, but never before has a book set out to demonstrate the recurring nature of counterculturalism across all times and societies, and to illustrate its dynamic role in the continuous evolution of human values and cultures.

Books on Counterculture

From Counterculture to Cyberculture. Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. - by Fred Turner.

"Two decades after the end of the Vietnam War and the fading of the American counterculture, computers somehow seemed poised to bring to life the countercultural dream of empowered individualism, collaborative community, and spiritual communion."

Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture, Joseph Heath, Andrew Potter.

Notes from Underground: Rock Music Counterculture in Russia
by Thomas Cushman, Associate Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College and a Fellow at the Harvard Russian.

Counterculture and Social Transformation: Essays on Negativistic Themes in Sociological Theory - Seymour Leventman, Edward A. Tiryakian, Social Forces, Vol. 63, No. 1 (Sep., 1984)

The Survival of a Counterculture: Ideological Work and Everyday Life Among Rural Communards - Bennett M. Berger, Todd Gitlin, The American Journal of Sociology, (Jan., 1983).