Peace, Love, and Hippies.

23 Feb

According to Webster’s Dictionary, a hippie is a person, especially of the late 1960s, who rejected established institutions and values and sought spontaneity, direct personal relations expressing love, and expanded consciousness, often expressed externally in the wearing of casual, folksy clothing and of beads and headbands. The ‘Hippie Movement’ emerged as a response to the government, established institutions, the Vietnam War, and society in general. This movement is often associated with free love, hallucinogenic drugs, protests, and of course, music which could be seen at the infamous Woodstock Festival.

A common misconception among the dominant culture and a subordinate culture is that they always have conflicting ideas but Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson tell us otherwise in “Resistance through Rituals.” They state that subordinate cultures will not always be in open conflict with the dominant culture and may, for long periods of time, coexist together peacefully. (12) The text also states how subcultures have many things that bind them to the parent culture, but also have significant things like values, activities, and territorial spaces which differentiate them from the dominant or parent culture. In order to analyze a specific subculture, we must first analyze their parent culture to note the similarities and differences between the two. Like hippies, ‘some subcultures appear only at a particular historical moment: they command the stage of public attention for a time: then they fade, disappear or lose their distinctiveness. ‘ During the 1960s, many hippies often left their families because they felt like outcasts or simply because they rejected the ideas of their parents, and moved to join people of their ‘kind.’ Hippies often dismissed the traditional family values of the time, which consisted of conservativeness, work, and money; essentially the ‘American Dream.’  Many families during the 1960s dealt with fathers and older brothers leaving for the Vietnam War, never to return home which shook the foundation of the family and ultimately changed it. Women began getting jobs for the first time, to support their families and the war at hand and children were often left on their own. This change could have been a factor that influenced a movement that was so different from the dominant culture.

According to Joe Austin and Michael Nevin Willard, ‘youth’ can become a metaphor for perceived social change and its projected consequences and the term is often used as a scapegoat for larger social concerns. Young people are commonly seen as a problem for society as reflected in publications, television shows, and public records alike. George Lipsitz, professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara stated that ‘public records most often reflect the concerns of those in power and only rarely contain evidence of the thoughts, actions, and aspirations of teens and young adults unless those groups are seen as some kind of threat to people with power.’ (2) Problems arise with the way researchers gather information about youth; usually this information is collected through parents and other adults but rarely takes youth and their perspectives and opinions into account. According to Gary Alan Fine and Sherryl Kleinman in ‘Rethinking Subculture: An Interactionist Analysis’ the authors state that there are four main problems with the way people conduct research on subcultures:  subculture has often been treated as synonymous with the population comprising the subsociety, subculture has been examined without sufficient concern for delineating the group of individuals serving as its referent, the subcultural system is pictured as homogeneous, static, and closed, and subculture is depicted as consisting in its entirety of values, norms, and central themes. Generations of Youth includes a formational approach which sees youth as static and addresses the way youth is historically constructed and understood as a social identity. Hippies were a part of a youth movement of the 1960s composed mostly of white teens and young adults between the ages of 15 and 25 years old. Hippies were known for challenging the dominant culture through protests, sit-ins and opposition for the Vietnam War and other happenings during that time.

Hippies were often seen as ‘non-conventional’ because they often delayed or refrained from the markers of the transition to adulthood, which can be seen in “Pathways to Adulthood in Changing Societies” by Michael J. Shanahan. These markers include leaving school, starting a full-time job, leaving the home of origin, getting married, and becoming a parent for the first time. The hippie movement featured many individuals who would deviate from the path of standardization and follow a more liberal path of individualization. Shanahan introduces Marlis Buchmann’s idea of new individualization in his article which states how since the 1960s standardized trajectories of school, work, and family have been shattered by several structural and cultural developments. The article also states that historical events, especially wars, have altered the transition to adulthood as seen in the 1960s. Boys would enter the military at a young age which caused a disruption between youth and adulthood and further hindered their entrance into family roles.


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