Youth and their culture. Family. Women and the society
Youth cultures, subcultures or just teenage gangs have been a topic of debate by the wider public for some time now. It is generally thought that it is a post war phenomenon starting with the Teddy boys in the 50s.
As with today’s "Hoodies" the main concern is gang violence and intimidation. So much so that it has influenced successive government policy.
The Teddy Boys
The Teddy boy's subculture started in the early 50s. They were so called because of their Edwardian styles drape jackets, they also wore drainpipe trousers and, brothel creepers. They caused a stir amongst the older generation as they hung around on street corners and were known for carrying flick knives and intimidating passersby. Most famously they rioted in the cinemas at the screening of the film Rock Around the Clock.
Mods and Rockers
Later there were the motorcycling macho Rockers or Ton up Boys who were associated with street violence and clashes with the much hated Mods. The Rockers style was the leather biker jacket, which they decorated themselves, leather trousers or jeans with the symbolic white silk scarf. Again they caused a moral panic with their gang violence and street crime.
As said the Rockers main rivals were the Mods who wore super smart Italian fashions, such as tailor made suits, and they rode scooters. They were notorious for the Mods and Rockers beach clashes of the 60’s and regularly hit the headlines. Again raising public fears of youth running wild and out of control.
Then came the brutal looking skinheads adorning a continuation of the mod style but adding close cropped hair, braces, crombie coats, and Dr Martin Boots. They originated in the late 60s and were associated with gang fights and racial violence. Some were politicised into far left and right organisations. Their whole dress code was designed to intimidate and for ease of fighting.
There was a skinhead revival in the 80s where they cropped their hair even closer. They were also associated with football violence. As with all previous working class youth cults there was widespread fear from the older generation and calls for tougher laws or for something to be done about the problem.
Perhaps the pinnacle of youth threat to society was the punk rockers, with their violent, aggressive music and lyrics and their anti social habits, i.e. spitting. There style was a post-modern mish-mash of previous fashions with the biker leather jacket, the Teddy boy drain pipe trousers and Skinhead ‘bovver boots.
They dressed to shock, sometimes wearing Vivian Westwood designed sex clothing. They caused a media storm in the late 70s with clashes in the London’s Kings Road with Teddy boys and violence at their concerts.
"The Scuttlers" were young working class men who wore bell bottom trousers, silk scarves, clogs, and cropped their hair with a long fringe (a Donkey fringe). They carried knives and used large belt buckles in their gang clashes. The belt buckles had elaborate designs such as serpents and feathers.
They would organise fights in the town centre with rival gangs. They had names such as "The Bengal Tigers" and "The Ancoats."
The courts were regularly filled with detained street fighters and they were given punitive sentences. This did not deter them however and other measure such as organised football games and Lads clubs were used to curb their excessive energies.
As with today’s knife wielding youths there were deaths but not as many. However there were a lot more serious injuries.
Some said that the fighting was a reflection of the wider Victorian society that seemed to be permanently at war. There was imperial expansion and the Franco-Prussian conflict.
The Demise of the Scuttlers
The Scuttlers, a name for street fighting, emerged in the period around 1870 to 1900. It is thought that changing social conditions such as the destruction of the worst slums as well as recruitment into the army led to their demise
Teddy boys, Mods and Rockers, Punks, Skinheads and Hoodies, all stir up public fears and curiosity but the 19th century Scuttlers showed that it is nothing new.
* * *
A "typical" British family used to consist of mother, father and two children. But in recent years there have been many changes in family life. For example, since the law made it easier to get a divorce, the number of divorces has increased. That's why 24% of British children live with only one parent, usually their mother.
The contemporary British child doesn't have a lot of companionship from brothers and sisters, because the average family has only one or two children. Most British children live with their parents at least until they finish school at the age of 17 or 18. Then many go away to college, leaving some parents sad and lonely in their empty nest and others enjoying their release from parental responsibilities. But many adults stay with their parents during their college years or return home after graduation. Today's parents cannot even be sure that their married children have moved out forever. After a divorce they may return to the parental home temporarily or even on a long-term basis.
Older people take pride in their independence, enjoy their freedom and don't want to be a burden to their children. The telephone, the car and the airplane keep them in close contact even when they live in different parts of the country.
Members of family — grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousinskeep in touch, but they see less of each other than they used to. This is because people often move away from home town to work and so the family becomes scattered. Christmas is the traditional season for reunions. Although the family group is smaller nowadays than it used to be, relatives often travel many miles in order to spend the holiday together. Family parties may be all the more joyous when they bring together relatives who haven't seen each other for a while.
* * *
t is hard to know what women’s role in British society actually is, since there is no one path that women are expected to follow. Women can get an education and pursue a career, if this is what they want, or they can get married and leave the workplace to stay at home to raise their children, if they can afford to do so. Some women decide that they want both a career and a family life, which obviously requires good time management skills! What is clear is that there are many options available to British women about how they live their lives.
Britain is far from being a fair and equal society. Class is still an issue, while race can impact upon people’s life chances. Gender also continues to influence the way individuals are treated, since women continue to struggle to make it to the most powerful and influential positions in society. In politics, business and finance, it tends to be men that run the show, which may have something to do with in-built prejudices concerning women’s abilities in the workplace.
Plus, even if women are not allowed to be asked in an interview whether they intend to have children, the assumption is that they will. Consequently, it would appear that employers would prefer to hire someone who is going to be completely dedicated to their job, rather than someone who will have to take maternity leave for months on end. Not all women even want children, but there is an expectation that most will, although it is hardly fair to discriminate against women for fulfilling an essential role, anyway. If women stopped having children, society would cease to function, although this is unlikely to happen any time soon.
There are some British women who make it into the top professions, though quite often the most successful women are those who have come from privileged backgrounds. A disparity exists between the opportunities given to girls from disadvantaged backgrounds and those given to girls from affluent backgrounds, something which continues to influence their lives as they become adults.
Girls from poorer backgrounds may have fewer aspirations and find themselves leaving education early in order to end up in a badly-paid, boring job and to have children. Middle-class girls are more likely to be pushed on by their parents to make something of their lives. There may be an underlying assumption that eventually they will settle down, but the emphasis is on encouraging them to get an education so that they have a greater amount of choice as adults.
Women obviously have an important role to play in British society, as do women in any society, though what role they take on is often up to the decisions taken by individual women.