mods and rockers

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mods and rockers

significant examples of stylistic youth SUBCULTURES which emerged in the 1960s. Mods were a stylistic grouping based on motor scooters and smart dress, and Rockers a grouping riding powerful motorcycles and wearing heavy leathers. According to Hall et al. (1976) and Clarke et al. (1979), while Mods could be interpreted as the ‘symbolic representation’ of new working-class affluence through CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION and display, Rockers represented a reaffirmation of traditional’ working-class values, including working-class community, male chauvinism, etc.

Such youth subcultural phenomena have been subject to considerable sociological scrutiny in Britain, particularly since the research carried out by S. Cohen (Folk Devils and Moral Panics, 1973). Incidents involving groups of Mods and Rockers at English seaside resorts between 1964 and 1966 were widely condemned in the press and broadcast news. Cohen uses them as a case study in the examination of the treatment of DEVIANCE by the MASS MEDIA. He argues that through the use of STEREOTYPES, symbols and imagery the media actively help construct FOLK DEVILS and generate large scale MORAL PANICS.

In the work of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies represented by Hall et al. (see also CULTURAL STUDIES), groupings such as Mods and Rockers are of interest in a different way, because they ‘subvert the supposed (passive) role of the consumer and transform… cultural meanings’, constituting new forms of cultural identity and autonomy.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
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Typically, sociologists have written about panics in which the purported threat was overblown (as with the rockers and mods) or entirely imaginary (as with the mythical Satanic child abuse rings of the late '80s and early '90s).