What has happened to counterculture? History of the cultural wars during de second half of the 20th Century
Edited by Juan Carlos Fernández Serrato (Universidad de Sevilla)
IC Journal (https://ic-journal.org/), an open access journal listed at SCOPUS and Thomsom Reuters ESCI, aims to focus its attention to the influence of contraculture in the current contentious cultural dynamics.
The aim of this monograph is to offer a historical overview of the development of the different forms of counterculture emerging in the West during the 1950s, with the progressive domination of mass culture and the modes and fads of pop living. Since around 1965 until the end of the 1970s, it seemed as if the cultural revolution deriving from rock music and the hippy generation was going to bring about the social changes that it had indeed envisaged. Counterculture or underground culture was a combination (seldom more than a proposal for changes in social customs and ideas) of diverse currents of critical thinking, emerging largely but not exclusively among North American and European youths, in the main white university students. Such currents include the civil rights movements, the New Left, the reviews of Marxism from the approach proposed by Herbert Marcuse (1955 and 1964), the echoes of the May 1968 student revolts in France, the spiritual revolution of psychedelic culture revolving around LSD and the quest for freedom from the establishment promoted by the beatnik writers in the 1950s, the pop reinterpretations of mystical Eastern philosophies and rock music as the main vehicle of cultural communication. For the first time in Western history, it was possible to speak of the advent of a ‘youth culture’, which first of all represented the desire for identity and the frustrations of North American teenagers, before mutating to dominate the production and consumption standards of mass culture and, at the same time, to generate discourses aimed at subverting and socially transforming the established order.
These two cultures, respectively called ‘mainstream’ and ‘underground’ at the beginning of the 1970s, have prevailed in a contemporary cultural logic to the point that it would be possible to talk about a ‘pop archiculture’ (Fernández Serrato, 2005) as the bedrock of the socio-semiotic devices of the cultural industry in postmodernity. The intention of the three consecutive issues proposed by IC, Revista Científica de Información y Comunicación is to gain further insights into the sociocultural genealogy of our present.
The first monograph—of a series of three—attempts to enquire more specifically into the historical and genetic dimensions of the social freedom discourses and politics resulting from underground culture and which would later pave the way for the so-called ‘counterculture’. The fact that many of the subversive or merely marginal discourses ended up forming part of the very core of the mass culture industry in subsequent decades, losing therefore all of their potential for rebellion, critique and for driving social change (rock ‘n’ roll, of course, but also orientalism, mysticism, drug culture, individualism—once it had shed its primitive anarchical character—youth subcultures, etc.) is paradoxical to say the least. Gaining a better understanding of the nature, constraints and crystallisation of countercultural discourses, genres and rhetoric, as well as their social effects, in the construction of the ‘world-culture’ of globalisation, are among the objectives pursued by IC.
The topics proposed for the monograph are as follows:
Countercultural discourses. As with all symbolic production, counterculture produced its own discourses (rock ‘n’ roll) and altered existing ones (comics, films, journalistic writing, plastic arts, etc.) through which it disseminated its way of understanding the critique of customs and subversion against dominant ideologies. In this section, authors are encouraged to enquire into the characteristics, rhetoric and discursive operations of transformation that took place in the generation of symbolic products by counterculture.
Countercultural imaginaries. What were the flows of cultural meanings that led to the emergence of counterculture? What were its philosophical and/or ideological foundations? Was counterculture an undesired ‘outgrowth’ of the symbolic logics of mass culture? Did counterculture manage to create a more or less structured system of principles, values and social meanings?
Countercultural politics. Anti-establishment political activism was at the root of the social upheaval of the counterculture movements, but what were its links to the ideologies and forms of political organisation of the collectives and organisations that adopted it as their banner? Was there a natural coincidence between the radical political activism and the symbolic productions of counterculture or were the discourses of underground culture leveraged as propaganda vehicles?
Keywords: counterculture, underground, pop, New Left, rock, hippy culture, psychedelia, neo-mysticisms.
Deadline for submitting papers: 30 April 2020
More information for actors available at: https://ic-journal.org/submission-of-originals/
Besides this monographic theme, IC Journal also publishes articles about communication from a critical perspective in its section “Miscelánea”.
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