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What is Subculture?: Identifying and Exploring Subcultures on Campus
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sub culture
video activity
sociological imagination
cultural hegemony

How to Cite

Burkhalter, Liz, and Teresa Evans Ryan. 2016. “What Is Subculture?: Identifying and Exploring Subcultures on Campus”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, May. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


Students are usually able to understand the concept of culture and identify dominant cultural groups. Yet many struggle with understanding how the concept of subculture is an "unnatural break" from the dominant culture (Hebdige 1979). This activity helps students understand the concept of subculture and recognize the existence of subcultures in their...

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Subject Area(s):
Cultural Sociology
Resource Type(s):
Class Level(s):
College 100
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

Please see attached instructional document for usage note.

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Objective 1: Define and understand the concept of subculture. Students describe how certain groups are categorized as a subculture by explaining the general definition of subculture and identifying its distinguishing characteristics.
  2. Objective 2: Practice research techniques and sociological methods. Students practice introductory research methods such as: data collection (e.g. content analysis, observation, interviewing, etc.), analysis, and dissemination of findings.
  3. Objective 3: Developing the Sociological Imagination. Students practice sociological thinking by identifying and then explaining campus subcultures. This process helps students reflect on how the subculture connects to their own experiences and others.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Assessment 1: The video should show/name each group member, provide a subculture definition, introduce the identified subculture and characteristics, its symbols and what it represents; discuss if the subculture has been disempowered and reincorporated.
  2. Assessment 2: Video shows students have appropriately: identified/used information sources to conduct research (school & online content), used data collection methods (interviews, observation & content analysis), analyzed and disseminated information.
  3. Assessment 3: Students demonstrate their sociological imagination by identifying a campus subculture, watching their classmates’ videos and posting 5 reactions that demonstrate critical thinking to these videos in the discussion area of Blackboard.

When using resources from TRAILS, please include a clear and legible citation.

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