Some years ago during the pre-disaster peak of Cool Japan boosterism, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs produced all sorts of guides and pamphlets for foreign tourists. One of them was an illustrated map of Tokyo hotspots, with various subcultures identified with specific train and subway stations. Supposedly, one could find the gyaru at Shibuya, the Lolita at Harajuku, and the vintage hunter at Shimokitazawa. It appears that Kawamura took this map to heart and used the concept to organize her survey of Tokyo fashion subcultures. It is an interesting way to arrange a discussion of diverse material, and because some subculture members do frequent particular sections of the city more often than others for shopping and leisure activities, it is not a completely unreasonable heuristic.
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What is surprising to a reader or researcher in the field of youth cultures or subcultures is the courage which the author has to use such an approach in post-modern times. CCCS is profoundly critiqued nowadays by more recent approaches, such as that of neo-tribalism Mafesolli, , Bennett or of liquid modernity Baumann, , which the author ignores.
But the following chapters, and in particular those which target and describe cultural practices of certain groups Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 reveal that this definition is not in good fit with the realities studied by Kawamura.
Thus, none of the groups described in the second part of the paper do not display any distinct subcultural characteristics, being specific to post-modern fluidity of neo-tribes. None of the groups exhibit elements of class belonging or class subordination, a distinctive element for the neo-marxist interpretation of Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. In other words, the author builds a good description of the state of affairs of young Japanese fashion groups, without going into a deeper decoding of their potentially-subcultural signs.
Unfortunately, this hypothesis is not brought to the surface more throughout the work, and the argument which proves the existence of a clear correlation between these two variables is missing, as the large number of youth cultures can also be traced to a deeper globalization of Japan, a tendency to move closer to the Western World and an increase in media and socialization networks, or many other elements.
Also, the elements of rebellion and going against mainstream claimed by the author for the groups which she researches are questionable. From the standpoint of a rebellion against the dominant class, my intuition is that these are an integral part of it, as instead of being opposed to it.
For a better methodological argument, I consider that the theoretical component of the paper should be revised and the studied groups reframed in the area of neo-tribes, of scenes, or of youth cultures.
Beyond these remarks, the style is clear and easy to lecture, even for a reader which is not familiar with cultural studies or sociology. Kawamura is a pioneer in the study of subcultures from a perspective which transcends the borders of classical theories, stimulating through this paper an imporant debate on the way in which we can sociologically look at subcultures. This is the reason why this book is important for researchers in the field, because it opens up an important field of interpretation and study of youth communities and cultures, from another perspective than the Euro-american one.
Related Papers. By Molly Brenan. By Nathaniel Weiner. By Nick Bentley. By Nic Querolo. Download pdf. Remember me on this computer. Enter the email address you signed up with and we'll email you a reset link. Need an account? Click here to sign up.
Fashioning Japanese Subcultures
Western fashion has been widely appreciated and consumed in Tokyo for decades, but since the mids Japanese youth have been playing a crucial role in forming their own unique fashion communities and producing creative styles which have had a major impact on fashion globally. Geographically and stylistically defined, subcultures such as Lolita in Harajuku, Gyaru and Gyaru-o in Shibuya, Age-jo in Shinjuku, and Mori Girl in Kouenji, reflect the affiliation and identities of their members, and have often blurred the boundary between professionals and amateurs for models, photographers, merchandisers and designers. Based on insightful ethnographic fieldwork in Tokyo, Fashioning Japanese Subcultures is the first theoretical and analytical study on Japan's contemporary youth subcultures and their stylistic expressions. It is essential reading for students, scholars and anyone interested in fashion, sociology and subcultures. Fashioning Japanese Subcultures. Yuniya Kawamura. The Future of Japanese Subcultures.
Please sign up or sign in to add the item to a folder. Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashioning Japanese Subcultures. London: Berg,