Culturally Subversive Cities


Students are required to answer one option. Answers should be two to three pages long (double space, 12-point font, 1 inch margins). It is worth 100 points. You are expected to use as many assigned readings as possible to support your answers. We are assessing you on your knowledge of course materials (lectures, assigned readings, movies).

Culturally Subversive Cities

The class has explored the idea that cities are incubators of different subcultural groups. The set of questions below addresses this broad issue through the case of punk rock in Los Angeles.

  1. What qualities make cities good environments for nourishing subversivecultural groups?
  2. What are the mechanisms involved in creating a subgroup? How did this play
    out in giving rise to the punk rock movement in Los Angeles?
  3. Describe the mechanisms involved in creating a robust punk movement in the suburbs of Los Angeles.


Culturally Subversive Cities

Question 1: Qualities That Make Cities Good Environments for the Nourishment of Subversive Cultural Groups

            Cities are home to diverse groups of people. Individuals move from rural into urban areas lured by the promise of getting a job and living a good life. As a result, most modern cities are a melting pot of various cultures. Different groups will adopt their own culture based on their neighborhoods. Therefore, a city will display various cultures depending on the social set up of the groups. The cities majorly rely on the economic aspects to experience growth. Their growth is not instantaneous but rather a process that is accompanied by successful economic prospects and the input of the people that migrate from urban areas to the towns. The social structure created by people living in the cities has an impact in the growth of the towns. People adopt new lifestyles although the imprint of their previous cultures will still remain in them. The cities have the capability to nourish good cultures as well as subversive cultural groups. The subversive cultural groups are mainly as a result of the subversive activities in the film industry, music, educational institutions, religious organizations, mass media, and other forms of art. The messages contained in the activities breed the growth of subversive cultural groups in the cities.


            Educational institutions in the cities play a big role in the development of subversive cultural groups. The modern city educational set up is characterized by diversity. According to Wirth, although cities are characterized with urbanism, the influences of the cities do not entirely wipe out the original culture of the inhabitants of the city (3). To some extent, people will display their traditional personality while expressing themselves. This implies that people are not equalized by the urban life in the city. The political, economic, religious, and social pressures make people to form distinct cultural groups away from the main cultural groups of the cities. The differentiation of the groups is reflected majorly along the racial and ethnic lines. Therefore, students from peer groups in schools that are motivated by the differences in color an ethnicity. Dominant and recessive groups are formed depending on the locality of the educational institutions. The suppressed groups in most cases become rebellious and violent due to discrimination meted on them from the other students. According to Goffman, the children grow up showing salient racial and ethnic distinctions in their interactions (136). The children who are dominated or discriminated by the dominant groups grow up to form subversive cultural groups that become rebellious to the dominant culture that is driven by the dominant groups. Their subversion is mainly expressed in their social activities and the forms of art. As is captured by Lilledeshan Bose, the young adults will become attracted to music and other forms of art that have a rebellious message (n.p.). A subversive culture group is thus formed that reacts to almost everything in the society.


            The growth of the cities has created both urban poverty and wealth. The subversive cultural groups are in most cases a product of the urban poverty. According to Wacquant, the rise of urban inequality, which is fueled by the income inequality, has led to the creation of a polarized urban population (108). The expansion of markets in the cities has failed to create an equal society. Instead, it has brought a new regime of urban marginality where the populations in urban centers live as adversaries. The weak social-democratic welfare has led to increased segregation in the cities thus creating subversive cultural groups. The urban poverty has resulted in the creation of homeless people and families and beggars in the city, an unemployed population, development of street economies that are fueled by drug sales, and despondency and rage among the youths. The subversive cultural groups are a product of the urban poverty that is driven by a capitalistic mindset. The dominant group exploits the poor to make themselves rich. As a result, people are forced to take multiple industrial jobs to meet their expenses. The dual occupation structure has created the modernization of misery of the population that lives in the city (Wacquant, 108). The people live in misery since they are forced to work for a lot of hours while the wages are small and cannot take care of all their needs.

            The increased racial discriminations in the urban cities create polarization between the mistreated groups and the favored group. In the United States, the modern cities are marked with increased racial discrimination against black people. Most of the youth have become vulnerable to anti-black security officers who target the black youth in the fight against crime. Dillon notes that environmental insecurity makes most people living in the city to be vulnerable to premature death (5). The racial segregation that majorly targets the black people in the cities has led to the emergence of subversive cultural groups that are pushing for the fair treatment of the segregated communities. The cultural groups have even led to the formation of movements that oppose the current social structure, for example, Black Lives Matter movement.

            Cities are thus increasingly forming good environments that lead to the formation of subversive cultural groups. Most of the urban populations, especially the youth, are involved in subversive activities that are aimed at showcasing their displeasure with the discrimination in the educational institutions, urban poverty, and the increased racial discriminations.

Works Cited

Bose, Lilledeshan. Punk Rock Origins: The Story Behind Bad Religion. 25 February, 2013.

Dillon, Lindsey, and Julie Sze. “Police Powers and Particulate Matters: Environmental Justice and the Spacialities of In/securities in US Cities.” English Language Notes (2016).

Goffman, Erving. Stigma: Illegality in Different Immigrant Neighborhood.

Wacquant, Loïc. “Logics of urban polarization: the view from below.” The Sociological Review 47.S2 (1999): 107-119.

Wirth, Louis. “Urbanism as a Way of Life.” American journal of sociology 44.1 (1938): 1-24.

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