Sociology Index


Counterculture received prominence during the youth rebellion of the 1960s and early 1970s. Counterculture in 19th century Europe included the traditions of Romanticism and Bohemianism. Counterculture is a set of cultural ideas that, to some extent, differ from and conflict with, those generally upheld in the society. Hippies are a classic example of American counterculture. The hippy counterculture was in reaction to the problems of institutionalized American society. A counterculture movement expresses the aspirations and dreams of a specific population during a certain period of time, a social manifestation of zeitgeist. One can find counterculture movements even in commercial campaigns. Subculture refers to group that shares common values, norms, beliefs. The term counterculture is close in meaning to subculture, but the concept of counterculture stresses the idea of an open and active opposition to dominant cultural values.

A counterculture develops when members of groups identify common values that distinguish them from others. Counterculture groups may be based on common appearance, ethnic group, sexuality, status or social behavior. Cultural equivalent of political opposition, the term counterculture is used to describe cultural groups whose values and behavioral norms run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day. Counterculture is generally used to describe a theological, cultural, attitudinal or material position that does not conform to accepted societal norms.

Counterculture In Modern Times Today

The idea of the counterculture has become fetishized and commercialized in our mainstream, neo-liberal, consumer culture. People dress up as “hippies” at music festivals that are sponsored by big name media corporations. The actions of our generation is increasingly controlled by influencers on Facebook and Instagram. According to UC Berkeley Professor Michael Cohen, the explanation with this new form of culture rather than those of the sixties lie with increased income inequality and economics. 

Books on Counterculture

From Counterculture to Cyberculture. Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. - by Fred Turner

Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture, Joseph Heath, Andrew Potter.

Notes from Underground: Rock Music Counterculture in Russia
by Thomas Cushman, Associate Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College and a Fellow at the Harvard Russian.

Counterculture and Social Transformation: Essays on Negativistic Themes in Sociological Theory - Seymour Leventman, Edward A. Tiryakian, Social Forces, Vol. 63, No. 1 (Sep., 1984)

The Survival of a Counterculture: Ideological Work and Everyday Life Among Rural Communards - Bennett M. Berger, Todd Gitlin, The American Journal of Sociology, (Jan., 1983).