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Girls and Subcultures

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Part of the Youth Questions book series (YQ)


Very little seems to have been written about the role of girls in youth cultural groupings. They are absent from the classic subcultural ethnographic studies, the pop histories, the personal accounts and the journalistic surveys of the field. When girls do appear, it is either in ways which uncritically reinforce the stereotypical image of women with which we are now so familiar … for example, Fyvel’s reference, in his study of teddy boys,1, to ‘dumb, passive teenage girls, crudely painted’ … or else they are fleetingly and marginally presented:

It is as if everything that relates only to us comes out in footnotes to the main text, as worthy of the odd reference. We come on the agenda somewhere between ‘Youth’ and ‘Any Other Business’. We encounter ourselves in men’s cultures as ‘by the way’ and peripheral. According to all the reflections we are not really there.2


  • Teenage Girl
  • Moral Panic
  • Critical Criminology
  • Youth Culture
  • Sexual Fluidity

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This article originally appeared in Resistance through Rituals, ed. Stuart Hall, London, Hutchinson, 1978.

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Notes and references

  1. T. R. Fyvel, The Insecure Offenders, London, Chatto & Windus, 1963.

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  2. S. Rowbotham, Woman’s Consciousness, Man’s World, Harmondsworth, Pelican, 1973

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  3. P. Willis, Profane Culture, London, Chatto & Windus, 1977

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  4. I. Taylor, P. Walton and J. Young (eds) Critical Criminology, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975.

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  5. M. Abrams, The Teenage Consumer, London, Press Exchange, 1959

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  6. See, for example, A. Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1959.

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  7. Willis, Profane Culture.

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  8. H. Thompson, Hell’s Angels, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1967.

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  9. T. Wolfe, ‘The Noonday Underground’ in The Pump House Gang, Bantam Books, New York, 1968.

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  10. D. Laing, The Sound of Our Time, London, Sheed & Ward, 1969.

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  11. J. H. Newsom, Half Our Future: A Report, London, HMSO, 1963.

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  12. See, for example, issues of Black Dwarf

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Copyright information

© 1991 Angela McRobbie

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Garber, J. (1991). Girls and Subcultures. In: Feminism and Youth Culture. Youth Questions. Palgrave, London.

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