Hegemony, Counterculture and Safety Pins

Our introduction to subcultures began with an examination of the ‘hoodie culture’ with a particular accent on the political significance of clothing. What we chose to wear is a reflection of how we wish to be perceived and this is particularly true amongst certain groups. For example, bandanas and balaclavas are commonly worn in the hoodie subculture to maintain an anonymity. The fact that they make themselves harder to identify sparks a ‘fear of the unknown’ which can result in a widespread moral panic. The reason that moral panic gains so much traction in the media is because of cultural hegemony. This is a pervasive ideology that strongly coerces every individual into a system of right and wrong general beliefs.

This system is the result of every person and institution that we have ever interacted with and provides us with a natural class breakdown. Antonio Gramsci argued that this is how society sustains dominance in a capitalist culture. However, individuals who take issue with regarded social hegemony fall outside of this social norm and emerge to form various subcultures. This is where style represents the viewpoints of those apart of subcultures. One such item is the safety pin.

The symbolic significance of the safety pin can be dated back to the Netherlands during World War II. When Dutch resistance collapsed against the German army, open rebellion would have ended in execution and so the Dutch people had to find a more discreet way of showing solidarity. A safety pin was worn under the collar or hem of the skirt and shown as a means to identify one another. Dutch people of all ages donned the safety pin as a form of resistance and symbol of freedom. It was not until the emergence of punk in the 1970’s that this symbol synonymous with rebellion, became integrated into popular punk culture.