The Deconstruction of “High Culture”: Youth Subculture as deviant in Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia

Ali Gunes


This paper examines youth subculture as a different social deviance in Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia. The youth subculture developed mainly during the 1950s and 60s with its distinctive views, values, life-styles, attitudes and patterns of behaviour, in which young adolescent people opposed firmly the dominant high or established culture of their adult parents. In its examination of the youth subculture, the paper will focus upon three central aspects in the lives of young people, which put them at once into a different position from that of adult people as well as from the streamline of the dominant culture. One of them is the idea of freedom and independence, which young people dream of in their lives in the face of the limiting and moralizing aspects of traditional culture represented by their parents, pastors in the church, and other important adult people in their lives. The second aspect is the use of music, which provides young people with genuine positive energy and creativity, in which they become able to express their deviant views and opposition to the dominant life-styles of their parents and society which disappoint them and regulate their lives, so that music, in a sense, enables young people to cross the borderline of what organizes their lives and then liberate them from the bondage of the restrictive traditional culture. Finally, the paper also explores how alcohol and sex are represented by Kureishi in the novel used as two primary indicators of independence from adult supervision.

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