American Skin Heads an Example of a Subculture Term Paper

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Skinheads Movement in America

"Skinheads' is a group of whites who are responsible for creating racial discrimination and prejudice in the United States. They were a very prominent, deviant and often violent sub-culture existing in the country in 1980s. A sub-culture is different from a minority group because the latter is primarily based on ethnic background while the former is grounded in value system. A person who joins a sub-culture is expected to have same values and beliefs as other members of the group. Farley (1990) defines subculture "as a set of cultural characteristics shared among a group within a society that are distinct in some ways from the larger culture within which the group exists, but also have features in common with the larger culture. Usually, a group that forms a subculture has some sense of identity, some recognition that people in the group share something among themselves that others in the larger society do not. A subculture can develop any time a group of people share some situation or experience that is different from that of others in their society."

Skinheads originated in Britain in early 1970s and their appearance makes them stand out. Most of those who have joined this group wear tattoos and are shaven-headed. They apparently grew up in America somewhere in mid-80s or at least that's when their presence came to the limelight. Skinheads believed in white supremacy and led to nationwide terrorism. While the rest of America was trying to create a race-less society where all would be treated equally, skinheads proved that prejudice was still very much a part of the American social fabric.

"Their style was meant to symbolize tough, patriotic, anti-immigrant, working class attitudes, in contrast to the supposedly, pacifist, liberal, middle class values of the long-hairs. A key aspect of the Skinhead phenomenon was their music, a type of hard-driving rock called "White Power" or "Oi!" music, whose lyrics pounded home a message of bigotry and violence." (Leo, 1988)

To understand the origin of skinheads in the United States, it is important to find out how and why the movement began in Britain. It was because of the deteriorating economic conditions of the country that white factory workers formed a group to fight for their rights, the group took up some other causes too.

"The skinhead movement began in Britain more than 20 years ago. It had become a fashion there among some groups of young factory workers to shave their heads, because they had to keep their hair cut short anyway in order to avoid getting it caught in the machinery. As racial, social, and economic conditions in Britain deteriorated, these young, White factory workers were among the hardest hit." (Dr. William L. Pierce, 1995)

American skinheads were obviously followers of the same group in Britain and therefore they would dress and behave exactly the way their counterparts did in other countries. On top of that the most despicable aspect of this body was their affinity for Nazism. They were not only propagating the cause of whites but also wee openly anti-Semitic; they firmly believed in religious supremacy too. This group was basically composed of working class Americans; all of them showed a prejudice against immigrants in the country. And their hatred for the immigrant class also originates from Britain where the movement first took place.

Skinheads or Skins as they are commonly known as are mostly young people between the age of 13 to 15 and males are in majority. They claim to be working for the rights of the white "working class" but most people are of the view that this group is nothing more than a terrorist racist body with no cause or objective. While in Britain most of those who joined this group belong to a specific class of the society, but that is not the case with skins in the United States as "the class origins of American Skins run the gamut from poor to wealthy." Most of them were heavy beer drinkers and often used drugs, which makes them a menacing terrorist group trying to create trouble in the name of white cause.

But wouldn't it be unfair to label them as terrorists because while they turned into a dangerous group of racists, there was a very genuine reason for their growth. They did not emerge solely for the purpose of harassing the…[continue]

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