Mother Centre Meeting at Nambassa, 1979

A counterculture (also written counter-culture) is a subculture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores.[1][2] A countercultural movement expresses the ethos and aspirations of a specific population during a well-defined era. When oppositional forces reach critical mass, countercultures can trigger dramatic cultural changes. Prominent examples of countercultures in Europe and North America include Romanticism (1790–1840), Bohemianism (1850–1910), the more fragmentary counterculture of the Beat Generation (1944–1964), followed by the globalized counterculture of the 1960s (1964–1974), usually associated with the hippie subculture[3] and the diversified punk subculture of the 1970s and 1980s.

Definition and characteristics

John Milton Yinger originated the term "contraculture" in his 1960 article in American Sociological Review. Yinger suggested the use of the term contraculture "wherever the normative system of a group contains, as a primary element, a theme of conflict with the values of the total society, where personality variables are directly involved in the development and maintenance of the group's values, and wherever its norms can be understood only by reference to the relationships of the group to a surrounding dominant culture." [4]

Some scholars have attributed the counterculture to Theodore Roszak,[3][5][6] author of The Making of a Counter Culture.[7] It became prominent in the news media amid the social revolution that swept the Americas, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand during the 1960s.[1][3][6]

Scholars differ in the characteristics and specificity they attribute to "counterculture". "Mainstream" culture is of course also difficult to define, and in some ways becomes identified and understood through contrast with counterculture. Counterculture might oppose mass culture (or "media culture"),[8] or middle-class culture and values.[9] Counterculture is sometimes conceptualized in terms of generational conflict and rejection of older or adult values.[10]

Counterculture may or may not be explicitly political. It typically involves criticism or rejection of currently powerful institutions, with accompanying hope for a better life or a new society.[11] It does not look favorably on party politics or authoritarianism.[12]

Cultural development can also be affected by way of counterculture. Scholars such as Joanne Martin and Caren Siehl, deem counterculture and cultural development as "a balancing act, [that] some core values of a counterculture should present a direct challenge to the core values of a dominant culture". Therefore, a prevalent culture and a counterculture should coexist in an uneasy symbiosis, holding opposite positions on valuable issues that are essentially important to each of them. According to this theory, a counterculture can contribute a plethora of useful functions for the prevalent culture, such as "articulating the foundations between appropriate and inappropriate behavior and providing a safe haven for the development of innovative ideas".[13]

Typically, a "fringe culture" expands and grows into a counterculture by defining its own values in opposition to mainstream norms.[citation needed] Countercultures tend to peak, then go into decline, leaving a lasting impact on mainstream cultural values. Their life cycles include phases of rejection, growth, partial acceptance and absorption into the mainstream.[citation needed] During the late 1960s, hippies became the largest and most visible countercultural group in the United States.[14] The "cultural shadows" left by the Romantics, Bohemians, Beats and Hippies remain visible in contemporary Western culture.[citation needed]

According to Sheila Whiteley, "recent developments in sociological theory complicate and problematize theories developed in the 1960s, with digital technology, for example, providing an impetus for new understandings of counterculture".[15] Andy Bennett writes that "despite the theoretical arguments that can be raised against the sociological value of counterculture as a meaningful term for categorising social action, like subculture, the term lives on as a concept in social and cultural theory… [to] become part of a received, mediated memory". However, "this involved not simply the utopian but also the dystopian and that while festivals such as those held at Monterey and Woodstock might appear to embrace the former, the deaths of such iconic figures as Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin, the nihilistic mayhem at Altamont, and the shadowy figure of Charles Manson cast a darker light on its underlying agenda, one that reminds us that ‘pathological issues [are] still very much at large in today's world".[16]

Other Languages
العربية: ثقافة مضادة
asturianu: Contracultura
беларуская: Контркультура
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Контракультура
български: Контракултура
català: Contracultura
dansk: Modkultur
Deutsch: Gegenkultur
español: Contracultura
Esperanto: Kontraŭkulturo
euskara: Kontrakultura
فارسی: پادفرهنگ
français: Contre-culture
한국어: 반문화
italiano: Controcultura
Кыргызча: Контрмаданият
Lingua Franca Nova: Contracultur
македонски: Контракултура
Nederlands: Tegencultuur
norsk: Motkultur
norsk nynorsk: Motkultur
polski: Kontrkultura
português: Contracultura
română: Contracultură
Simple English: Counterculture
slovenčina: Kontrakultúra
српски / srpski: Kontrakultura
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Kontrakultura
svenska: Motkultur
українська: Контркультура
中文: 反文化