UNDERSTANDING TEENAGE CULTS
This is a British newspaper article which tries to explain why teenagers are attracted to certain teenage ‘cults’ – groups whose beliefs and behaviour are considered strange, unnatural, or harmful but which become very popular or fashionable for a short period of time.
Ever since the early 1950’s, there have been attempts to explain why youth cults happen. None of them has been entirely convincing. The Reaction Theory Teenagers want to show how different they are from their parents and, perhaps more importantly, their older brothers and sisters.
If the last fashion had long hair and wide trousers, then the next one will have short hair and narrow trousers. There seems to be a lot of tmth in this. The Global Village Theory Because of films, records, television and radio, teenagers are aware of what their contemporaries are doing all around the English-speaking v/orld.
Almost as soon as there were hippies in San Francisco, we had them too. A problem with this theory is that the time has to be right for a style to be adopted. The main influence on teenagers remains their friends.
The Teenage Idol Theory
Teenagers imitate the people they look up to, chiefly film stars and pop performers. When David Bowie used eye shadow, so did many of his male fans. However, this only succeeds if the pop star is in tune with the v/ay youth culture is already going. The Technology Theory Many developments in teenage culture were possible only because of new technology. Electric guitars plus amplification meant you could have pop groups and pop festivals. The transistor radio made pop music inevitable.
The Drug Culture Theory
This theory suggests that the nature of a youth cult is determined by the drugs that it takes. Speed (amphetamine) equals aggression and energy think of punks and skinheads. Pod (cannabis) equals relaxation and mysticism – think of hippies. Even ‘ordinary’ society has its drugs, such as alcohol, nicotine, coffee, etc. But maybe the style came before the drug.
The Capitalist Domination Theory
Youth culture happened because commerce understood that teenagers had money to spend and worked out ways of making them buy more records, clothes and concert tickets. This does not account for cults that were anti-consumerist like the punks and hippies.
The Class Theory
This is a sophisticated left-wing theory. Youth cults assert the solidarity of young people who are victimized by society. Skinheads take aspects of working class culture to an extreme. They almost enjoy people looking down on them. There is no simple explanation. My own research points to these general observations.
Firstly, cults don’t arrive fully-formed, flourish and then die. They are constantly changing and their message evolving. Secondly, teenagers only join a cult if it feels right, but most kids want to be something and cults give them something to be.
Mark the best choice.
1. In general, young people are most influenced by .
a) their social class b) their friends c) pop stars d) their parents
2. Which statement best sums up the Global Village Theory?
a) Young people need to be independent. b) People of the same age unite.
c) Efficient communication leads to copying. d) Big business causes change.
3. The Drug Culture Theory suggests .
a) young people are alienated c) nicotine isn’t a drug
b) skinheads are relaxed d) everybody takes drugs
4. Which of the following theories does the writer seem to accept the most?
a) The Reaction Theory. b) The Pop Idol Theory. c) The Class Theory. d) The Capitalist Domination Theory.
5. The writer concludes that cults .
a) make kids join them b) are evil c) provide an identity d) stay the same