Street culture – Young people in Finland in the 21st century
Mikko Salasuo, Janne Poikolainen & Pauli Komonen (eds.)
In Finnish: Katukulttuuri. Nuorisoesiintymiä 2000-luvun Suomessa
Street culture – Young people in Finland in the 21st century is a multifaceted, interdisciplinary potpourri of depictions of young people’s and young adults’ (and sometimes slightly older people’s) social groups, membership of such groups, and experiences, perspectives and interpretations of such membership.
There is a massive amount of different kinds of youth culture in contemporary Finland. Although the topic’s status within mainstream research has varied, numerous studies have been made since the 1950s. A significant change happened in the mid-1980s when research into subcultures made a breakthrough in Finland and became one of youth sociology’s most important approaches. For various reasons sub-culture research and its applications moved into the margins of both youth research and sociology in the first years of the new millennium.
The motivation behind this book is to offer fresh perspectives on subcultures and has led to this timely collection of articles on 21st century Finnish youth culture phenomena, written by young researchers. An anthology that focuses on subcultures has not been published in Finland before.
Thematically, the book is divided into 4 parts. It contains a broad introduction and 11 individual articles. The introduction examines the history of Finnish youth culture research from the 1950s to the present day. The introduction thoroughly examines the essential studies and paradigms, and outlines youth culture’s place in contemporary social scientific research.
The first collection of articles analyses Japanese pop culture in Finland, young people’s competitive games and ladette culture (“pissismi”) – newer cultural phenomena – while the second part of the book concerns itself with hip-hop culture, beginning with an examination of rap lyrics as political commentary and language politics. The second article takes the reader into northern Finnish rap culture. The second part contains two articles that deal with the graffiti phenomenon from different perspectives and the third and final part examines dark, metallic and tough youth culture. The reader is led into goth culture’s dark embrace and follows an ethnologist on a field trip into heavy metal culture, while the two last articles describe two extremes of youth drug culture: the Straight Edge movement and the life of drug addicts in Helsinki.
The work does not seek methodical or theoretical coherence – on the contrary. The articles study subcultures from the various points of view of journalism, ethnology, art pedagogy, linguistics, criminology, music pedagogy, sociology, social history and social pedagogy. An interdisciplinary approach produces perspectives that differ from and complement each other. At the same time the reader is introduced to the broad spectrum of methodical and theoretical approaches that are used to study subcultures today. Some of the articles have been spiced up with perspectives, photographs and other contributions from members of the subcultures.
Some of the subcultures that have been studied for the book are new, and some are older. Their modern forms have adapted and renewed themselves over the years. Almost all contemporary subcultures, both new and old, are linked by the strong presence of information technology which, with the globalization of youth culture, has made cultural products more available and easier to access. Different forms of social media have also had a significant influence on the exchange of subcultures between different countries.
The study on subcultures produces information that is still interesting and relevant. The work is on one hand a demonstration of the difficulties involved in applying the same conceptual framework to young people’s social group activities and on the other hand proof of the possibilities that are opened up by the concept of subculture. The point is to make use of earlier theoretical ideas and make them apply to contemporary social reality.