Friday, 28 October 2011

A sociological explanation of Goths who don't 'grow out of it'

As an antidote to the Mail's recent carping about we gloom-shrouded folks, reader Ash reminded me of a recent article in fellow UK newspaper The Guardian, entitled Growing Up For Goths; "Punks grow out of it [note: not necessarily true] and ravers stop raving. Why do Goths just carry on? Sociologists can explain."

I was pleased to discover that the sociologist behind this study was none other than Dr Paul Hodkinson, whose book Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture sits proudly on my own bookshelf. Dr Hodkinson is perhaps the perfect example of Gothdom for younglings to show to their parents; published writer, long-time Goth, and deputy head of Surrey University's sociology department, proof that being Goth does not prevent one from getting ahead in life.

For his book, Dr Hodkinson took a step back from his involvement with Goth and attempted to approach his review of the subculture as a detached observer, interviewing a cross-section of the Gothic community in the late 90s for his research. The Guardian reports that Dr Hodkinson has returned to his research by re-interviewing his original subjects, who at the time were in their teens and early 20s.

Source: Tumblr
Via: Goth-Style
Model: unknown
The article explains that it is easier to continue involvement with Goth into adulthood, including further education and beginning a career, as unlike other youth subcultures, Goth does not promote 'disengagement with school'. In fact, Goths tend to be proud of academic achievement and creative endeavours. Goths are often stereotyped as being highly intelligent; this is probably helped by the fact that many Goths (again stereotypically) tend to be quiet, studious types who genuinely want to learn rather than any secret links between black clothing and IQ.

Interestingly, Hodkinson's research noted that Goths were more willing than you might expect to tone down their appearance if it would aid their career (or, presumably, education), a tidbit of information that might ease the minds of many parents concerned for their Gothy child's future. However, most of those interviewed were still recognised as Goths at work, indicating that they could achieve success without giving up their dark aesthetic altogether.

Families are also touched on in the article; some of the interviewees now have children, and it was mentioned that organisers of Goth festivals are now thinking of providing facilities and policies regarding the offspring of Goth attendees. The Guardian comments, "For what Hodkinson calls "a fairly hedonistic youth subculture" to consider offering kids' clubs and on-site childminding means that demand from more mature goths is definitely on the increase."

You can check out the full article here; what a nice, positive read!

Lastly, here's an outfit I wore to the garden centre last weekend:

Scarf: Thriller, £8
Jeans: Criminal Damage, £35
Belt: random alt store, £25
T-shirt: AppleSnow, £17 ('allergic to bullshit')
Gloves: music shop in Torquay, £2
Jacket: Poizen Industries via Attitude Clothing, £35 (plus hand-painted patches)
Boots (not seen): New Rock, Camden, £135


*Sothis Dhampir* said...

Excellent post! and a stunning outfit!

akumaxkami said...

That's an excellent article. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Ash said...

Now that's what I call service! Sorry, I didn't notice the newsfeed.

ultimategothguide said...

Ash - thanks! :-D (No problem, it is a bit small. I'm glad you got me to write this, thank you. ^^)

Ghoulina Bones said...

I enjoyed the article, even though I know a few punks that are still punk even at forty and beyond. So I don't necessarily agree with that prior assessment.
However, the article itself was nice, especially since it was written by someone who IS successful within both the goth community, and the "real" world.
I also liked that they mentioned that even though we may dress down, we are still identified as goths.
To me, it doesn't matter if you are standing in a room naked, or wearing a pastel dress. Being a Goth has a lot to do with how you carry yourself, so no matter what, you'll still read as a goth.

Ghoulina Bones said...

I love your new hair by the way!
I realized we bleached our hair at almost the same time!

bunika13 said...

i read that article a few days ago, it was really interesting, there is not much information out there on why goths tend to stay goth even when they are adults. by the way, i love your hair! looks awesome!

LucretiaLevi said...

Thanks for sharing this article. The fact that, as time passes by you rather grow more and more into goth that out of it is a reason for me why I love this subculture and also the proove that Gothic is more than black clothes.
Btw, did you know that there was a kindergarden organised at this years WGT?

BabyBat said...

hi Amy, i was just wondering if you could do a blog giving advice to babybats with strict parents? I would really appreciate it. Thank you :)

LucretiaLevi said...

@ BabyBat:
I really recommend Jillian Venters aka the Lady of the Manners offers great advice, also for BabyBats.

ultimategothguide said...

Babybat - above, except I'm pretty sure it's dotcom not dotnet.

I have already done a couple of posts that I think might be helpful to you, is this the sort of thing you are looking for?:

Ashlee said...

I read that article! I thought that the subject was equally amazing as the fact that he's sociologist specializing in youth music based subcultures.

Zephyr Skye said...

ah, that article made my day : >

thanks, Amy. as always, your blog is superb. brilliant service to the Goth community.

oh- and if i might add, your hair is amazing now too. when you first mentioned it wasn't black anymore, i really couldn't imagine it, but you look AMAZING. in fact, in some ways it reminds me of Goth chick Misa Amane from the Japanese anime Death Note, my all time favorite.

best of the darkness,

ultimategothguide said...

Zephyr Skye - thank you! ^^ Also, you might just have inspired my first cosplay... ;-D

Infiltrator_N7 said...

Ghoulina Bones, bear in mind the Guardian article itself was not written by Paul Hodkinson but someone else who was writing about his research and by the looks of it interviewed Hodkinson to comment on his work. This means comments such as ‘punks and ravers grow out of it’ may not actually appear in Hodkinson’s original writing. This happens a lot in journalism, with overextrapolations and/or overinterpretations made of research findings or creative license being made with what was originally said by the researcher.

Hodkinson says on his own site that he did not make that statement:
“I would emphasise that I did not tell the Guardian that punks and ravers 'grow out of it' as per the headline and brief reference to the same in the article, but that reference aside, this is overall a nicely put together summary of part of my research by Louise Tickle.”
He also provides a link on his site to the original article which I’m going to download and read. According to his site it’s part of a bigger project on ageing and subcultures which is leading towards a book called ‘Ageing and Youth Cultures: Music, Style and Identity’ due for release later this year.

Original article link:
Just click one of the links on the right or below the abstract to get the .pdf of the article. You can then save and/or print it.

Interesting to note Hodkinson is also doing research on blogging amongst teenagers and twenty-somethings and wrote some articles and chapters on it. I might have to read some of this at some point too.

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