Counting Down Ten Subcultures from Around the World: A Two Part Series

It’s easy to get carried away with the stereotypes of countries, but what about the little niches where the, weird, ab-normal, and sub-normal still take root?  After the mods, the hipsters, the flappers, the greasers, zazous and hippies, who could really shock the normalized main culture anymore?  And what about the seedy underbelly of some of the world’s major cities; styles associated with crime and a lack of a savings account that have leaked into the mainstream?  Take these snapshots to educate yourself on the derogatory and pejorative; they’ve gone from the gutters to inspire mainstream style and global following.

10.  Russian Gopnik

Gopnik is not often a self-identifier but a derogatory slang term used to describe lower-class men in Russia; gopnik’s are pointed for high crime rates, wearing athletic gear/track suits, short-haircuts, and drug/alcohol abuse.  While made popular in the 1990’s, gopnik is actually derived from the Russian acronym GOP (Gorodskoe Obshestvo Prizreniye) which means “City Public Charity”; it referred to those living in public housing in pre-revolutionary Russia.  Thank god for ethnographers; gopniks are often found to be “squatting in archways, parks, or at trolleybus stops, smoking cigarettes, drinking beer and eating sunflower seeds”.  Not just in Russia, the culture also extends to post-Soviet countries.  In Latvia they are referred to as urla, in Lithuania? Forsas.


More Bits: According to the head of LDPR Moscow Branch, gopniks forma percentage of his party’s electoral base and are actually considered one of the most powerful political forces in Russia’s democracy  today.

9.  Miami Chonga

With short origins, the Spanish word chonga refers to working class women in Miami/Southern Florida area; they stand out as being aggressive, sexually liberal and emotionally expressive Latina women.  Originally considered a derogatory term, it is being switched around by those who wear it proudly as a mark of emerging feminism for Latina women in America.


More Bits: Gender studies scholar Jillian Hernandez noted the chonga subculture among women as an “emerging icon” of working class women and can actually be an empowering outlet.

8.  Japanese Bōsōzoku

Simply put as Japanese customized motorcycle gangs, the word Bōsōzoku actually translates to “violent running tribe”.  Bōsōzoku actually rose with the boom of the Japanese automobile industry in the 1950’s and used de-mufflered motorcycles to loudly tear through city streets and cause all kinds of ruckus, displaying deep disaffection and dissatisfaction with the Japanese status quo.


More Bits:  Bōsōzoku gangs often run streets, waving imperial Japanese flags  and have been found on major highways numbering in the 100s.

7.  Argentinian Floggers

Deconstructed, foto-bloggers (floggers) in Argentina is a teen fashion statement popularized by the end of 2004.  Much of the style is taken from glam rock, a subculture popularized in the US and UK in the 1980s.  It has also developed along a new love for electro house and techno music, and adopting dance moves from other countries, such as Belgian jumpstyle.  Flogging has immigrated throughout South America, finding fandom in Chile, Argentina and Brazil as well.


More Bits:  The act of flogging actually refers to a widely recognized website, in which floggers upload a photo a day to their blog- it has over 18 million members.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

-Bridget Healy


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