Youth culture research in sociology tends to focus on young men, but have you ever wondered what happens as women grow older and out of youth subcultures? What do ‘spectacular’ young female punks do when they age, when having a wild mohawk hairstyle or exotic makeup no longer seems quite so age-appropriate? Sociologist Laura Way (2020) argues that rather than understanding older punks as ‘clinging onto their youth’ or ‘refusing to grow up’, a cultural ageing perspective can show us that such youth cultural identities can actually provide the basis of more stable and evolving identities over the life course.
Way interviewed 22 older women who had been active punks. She found that they no longer saw the punk ethos as being closely attached to how one looks. The majority of Way’s participants did not consider themselves to ‘dress punk’ today. However, they largely recognised their dress as non-mainstream or ‘alternative’. When talking about a ‘punk’ way of dressing, for example, one interviewee, Jess, stated that you ‘did all that when younger’ as if this was a style one followed while growing up rather than committing to in the longer term.
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