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The Subculture Of Skateboarding Essay

1709 words - 7 pages

Research Question: What is a subculture, and provide an example of a subculture with details to substantiate your claim.

In this paper I will provide information to substantiate the claim that skateboarders are a subculture of mainstream society. After explaining the definition of culture, I will explain the characteristics of a subculture, and how skateboarding fits that description. I will also give a brief history of skateboarding, in relation to how the public sees skateboarders through the media. Once this is clearly laid out, I will outline the norms, values, and artifacts that separate skateboarding from dominant sports culture. With my personal experience as a skateboarder, I hope ...view middle of the document...

Early skateboarders would practice in drained pools around Southern California, where they where frequently at odds with the authorities. This added to the negative impression mainstream people had of skateboarders.

Generally, the skateboarding community is well received by the media today. But, this was not always the case. In the 1970s, skateboarding was closely linked to the punk rock movement, and the anti-establishment movement (Brooke 1999). The public would only hear about skateboarders through conservative media reports. Images of punks, deadbeats, and criminals were popular when describing skateboarders, and they where considered a ‘menace’ in the San Francisco Bay area (Brooke 1999 p. 21).

Skateboarding suffered a steep decline in popularity through the 1980s, until rebirth of skateboarding in the 1990s. This is largely due to the reimagining of skateboarding as a sport by newer athletes. This increase in popularity helped the fledgling skateboarding industry become the powerhouse that it is today, and with a cleaner image, has changed the public perception from hatred to acceptance (Steyn 2004).

Due to a recent increase in good publicity, skateboarding is experiencing a renaissance. Many young kids are picking up skateboards, and becoming highly skilled athletes. The skateboarding industry is also benefitting from the exponential rise in skateboarders, as their markets are expanding. This growth is attributed by Steyn (2004) to a strong foundation based derived from older and more mature professional skateboarders. Athletes like Tony Hawk, the first millionaire in the sport and large contributor to charity, help to turn long held negative attitudes toward skateboarders into more positive views. With an increase of custom made skate-parks, areas designed particularly for skateboarding, municipalities the world over no longer need to worry about trespassing and destruction due to adventurous teens with skateboards.

Values are the ideals that society holds as a whole on what is good and bad (Macionis & Plummer 2012, p.150). These are the commonly held beliefs of what should be, rather than what is. Values are slow to change, and are learned through socialization. Fundamentally, values are what bind individuals to their society (Penguin Dictionary of Sociology 2006, p. 409).

Common values of skateboarders include anti-establishment behavior against police. This is usually in the form of skateboarding on private or municipal property, not violence or disturbing the peace (Moore 2009). A piece of architecture that would be interesting for skateboarding, such as a set of stairs, draws in skaters and they will generally skate there until they are kicked out. This puts individual skaters at odds with the police, and in some cases has lead to laws banning skateboarding in public places, since there is an element of danger to both the athletes and the public.

Another value held in the skating community is the pursuit of...

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