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An Ambivalent Union: Subcultural Style and Ideology in the Relationship of Punks and Skinheads in the Former Czechoslovakia and Present-day Czech Republic

Author(s): By Hedvika Novotná | Martin Heřmanský

Journal: United Academics Journal of Social Sciences
ISSN 2212-5736

Volume: 2;
Issue: 12;
Start page: 72;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: subcultures | subcultural identity | subcultural ideology | subcultural style | Central Europe | post-socialism | punks | punk | skinheads

AbstractThis paper will focus on the change in relations between punks and skinheads since their emergence in the former Czechoslovakia until now.The first punks appeared in the former Czechoslovakia in the late 1970s and 1980s. In the mid-1980s, the first skinheads emerged amongst punks as a kind of small and unique part of the contemporary punk scene. From these beginnings, the sub-cultural ideologies of both groups were blurred and vague, partly because of the lack of information about both subcultures due to the existence of ‘the Iron Curtain’. Relatively harmonic relations started to radicalize and change rapidly after ‘the Velvet Revolution’ in 1989, leading to a split between both subcultures. Throughout the first half of the 1990s, both subcultures opposed each other and were perceived as adversaries. Only in the late 1990s did an apolitical current of skinheads, drawing on traditional skinhead values, and a section of punks start to sympathize with each other again (although on a different basis). This led, in some cases, to a hybridization of these subculturals as some of the punks and skinheads transformed into ‘skunks’. Using this example of changing relations, we ask to what extent a subcultural identity is formed by subcultural style and/or subcultural ideology. And also how different accents placed on one or the other creates such configurations that significantly influence the character of the subculture and possibly also its relations with another subculture. We will use the traditional concept of subculture (as defined by CCCS scholars) as an analytic tool, but, at the same time, we will try to critically assess its analytic potential for studying contemporary sub-cultural formations characterized by its fluidity and hybridity.

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