Table of Contents


Globalization commonly refers to the process of a cultural component from one place being spread and embraced in another location. This can be things such as a music genre, food, sports or other aspects of culture. Further, components of globalization include an ongoing process of integrating economically, politically, and culturally (Ecks and Zeiler 2003). Economically, local and global markets merge with the transnational movement of capital and goods (Haenfler 2014: 127). Goods from a local market become available in the global market. Likewise, goods in the global market may be prevalent in a local market. Politically, large organizations influence the direction that a nation moves towards as the corporations power weighs in on a nations decision. Transnational organizations including the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the European Union, and the World Bank make attempts to govern across borders or globally (Haenfler 2014). These large organizations influence individual nations based on what the result will be for the participating nations. There is a further connection here to the economic integration as many of these organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, are in fact, involved with monetary decisions and policies. Culturally, diverse peoples share art, music, food, film, literature, and fashion in unprecedented ways (Haenfler 2014).

Illustration showing examples of subculture stereotypes featuring hipster, raper, emo, rastafarian, punk, biker, goth, hippy, metalhead, steampunk, skinhead, cybergoth on a white background
Examples of subculture stereotypes.

These three components for globalization also remain constant variables for the spread and adaption of subcultures. Economically, transnational subcultural economies are created as participants in subcultures may choose to create and sell their goods, such as records or zines, for a global market (Haenfler 2014). On a macro scale, the role of consumerism is also present. Companies are able to sell product pertinent to a subculture, such as punk or rock apparel, and make profits through transnational transactions. Politically, subculturists can share deviant or subversive ideologies (Haenfler 2014). For example, punks in Jakarta, where religion and politics are heavily intertwined, partake in practices which defy the common ideologies, one of them being the consumption of alcohol (Wallach 2008). Aspects of culture are shared more rapidly. As subcultures spread, the way they dress, music they listen to, or values that they represent are all able to be expressed to another group of people who many want to partake in similar activities.


The way in which subcultures spread will likely take form through centralized diffusion or decentralized diffusion. Centralized diffusion entails governments or corporations, actively promote or impose an idea or product on a less powerful group (Haenfler 2014). Having a large amount of power, this is a purposeful spread of a subculture or aspects of a subculture. Reasons for this can often be political or economic, as the group with power is likely acting in their best interest. Decentralized diffusion is less planned, less controlled, and less influenced by differences in power (Haenfler 2014). This form of diffusion allows for more voluntary participation as people may select to what extent they would like to participate in the subculture.

It is important to note that the entirety of a subculture may not always spread. Certain components of a subculture may be more or less acceptable in a different location or more or less feasible to acquire. This can create differences in a local scene in comparison to a new place where the subculture is found.

On the other hand, subcultures can also experience hybridity in which there is a sense of heterogeneity (Mirabella 2017). Local and trans local practices are intertwined rather than being on a dichotomous spectrum.

Power and Inequality

Participating in a subculture, being a subculturist, entails belonging to a smaller group of people. These groups often see themselves as resisting the larger, mainstream group. Due to this separation, subculturists are marginalized. This is made possible by the size of subcultures, being smaller in quantity than the mainstream, and the fact that they do not blend with the norm. If the group were much larger, then it would not necessarily be considered a subculture but rather a more normative component of society. However, another component of this power dynamic is cultural hegemony. Elites have more control and power as to “cultural production, appropriating and/or infiltrating local cultures to satisfy the whims of the market” (Haenfler 2014:130). A further component in this inequality is the fact that elites are usually those within governments and corporations.

Methods for spreading

In the digital age, the internet serves as perhaps the central mechanism of the globalization of subculture.  For example, the anime fandom uses the internet to spread anime- related information and build online forums (Eng 2012: 172). Its respective functions, such as social media and video sharing platforms, allow subculturists to instantly spread their knowledge and learn from others. However, Haenfler makes the important note that subcultures existed even prior to the widespread adoption of the internet (136: 2014). Prior to the internet, subcultures often diffused through immigrants, a phenomenon which is still seen in present day (Haenfler 2006). Whether the migration was voluntary or not, immigrants still carry their cultural knowledge with them. Migration patterns also facilitate this process, as immigrants are likely to settle in places where other people of the same background are found. This collectivity and culture knowledge transcending borders allows for new scenes to spring up. For example, punk become was established in Mexico by Mexicans who had migrated to the US or to city centers within Mexico (O’Connor 2004). This transfer of knowledge and culture was brought fourth through the physical movement of people as they carry their culture with them.

Theory in context

Punk in Mexico

According to O’Connor (2004), the punk subculture originated from the United States (US), however, punk scenes exist in many countries, including Mexico and Spain. He argues that “the flow of ideas, people and media” in a socially organized way caused the punk subculture spread and remain active in Mexico (O’Connor 2004: 175). Specifically, movement of people to and from city centers within Mexico, and emigration to the United States, over several generations produced the local punk scene in the Latin American country. For example, some Mexicans who are involved in the punk scene in Mexico worked in the United States. After the punk was established, its popularity spread through flow of tapes, fanzines and some punk bands that became popular in the scene. Mexico City has one of the most vibrant punk scenes. (O’Connor 2004).

Four young men with brightly colored hair and black clothing stand in front of a brick wall.
A group of punks in Mexico

From this theory, we can hypothesize that the spread of the punk scene to Mexico and within that country had an economic component to it. Mexicans often migrated to find better employment opportunities. Also, participant’s ability to buy tapes or tickets to see bands depended on economic resources. Consequently, the exposure to punk and the money invested in the scene provided the infrastructure for economic globalization of the punk scene in Mexico. Furthermore, since there is no evidence of power playing a role in the adaptation of the subculture in Mexico, we can conclude that the subculture diffused through decentralization into Mexico.

Anime in the United States

Anime started in Japan, and made its debut in America in the 1960s (Eng 2012). According to Eng, anime was created in Japan for Japanese audiences but became widespread in the US, especially among science fiction fandom after the popularity of Astroboy (Tetsuwan Atom), Speed Racer (Mach Go Go Go), and Simba the White Lion (Jungle Taitei) (Eng, 2012: 159). After the initial popularity of these titles, interest in anime grew quickly through word of mouth till about 1975, when the first video recordings were commercially sold to the public. During this initial popularity fans referred to anime as “Japanimation”, highlighting the origin of anime. (Eng 2012: 159).

a group of anime fans wearing costumes of their favourite anime characters at an Anime Expo gathering.
A group of anime fans at an Anime Expo gathering.

Because fans had little access to new anime titles, they relied on personal contacts to acquire new recordings. Anecdotal evidence gathered by Eng suggests that anime fans initially mailed hard- copy documents and videocassette recorders (VCRs) with anime information such  “as synopses, reviews, and translations to each other” (Eng 2012: 160). Eventually, anime fans begun to host anime-only video rooms at science fiction conferences. Additionally, some fans of anime joined the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization (or C/FO), which had been founded to allow the fans to meet other fans and form social connections (Eng 2012).

 a black and white monogram of the anime character Hello Kitty, with a pink bow-tie. in the early 1980s, Hello Kitty and other anime characters became popular in the US (Eng 2012).
The monogram of Hello Kitty. According to Eng, in the early 1980s, Hello Kitty and other anime characters became popular in the US (2012)

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, anime titles were aired frequently on television (Eng 2012). Corporations started to take advantage of the now widely popular anime videos and its characters to make profit from anime fans. However, initial efforts to produce anime videos with English voice-overs were not widely accepted by fans. For instance, Streamline Pictures, led by Carl Macek, produced a mashup of three anime videos titled Robotech with English voice-overs and sold it to anime fans (Eng 2012). Although fans initially purchased Robotech, sales quickly went down because of its lack of authenticity because of the English voiceovers. Anime fans wanted titles that were in their original Japanese language with English subtitles, rather than titles with English voice-overs (Eng 2012).

A picture of the Robotech VHS tape and packaging sold by Streamline Pictures
A picture of the Robotech cassette tape sold by Streamline Pictures

Also, technology had improved so much to the point that fans could actually add their subtitles to the videos (Eng 2012: 161). In the mid 1908s fans began to subtitle anime videos, keeping the Japanese language spoken in the original version of the videos intact to preserve the Japanese origin of anime. These “fan-subtitled” videos became popular in the anime fandom (Eng 2012).

At the turn of the decade, anime fan clubs expanded to college campuses around the USA, and membership rapidly grew.  The clubs allowed fans to pool together resources and purchase titles that were too costly to purchase individually. In addition, companies like US Renditions, and Animeigo begun to make anime titles with English subtitles and the Japanese language left intact, which became popular on college campuses. College students also had access to anime through Japanese pen pals and US servicemen and women who had returned home from serving in Japan (Eng 2012: 161). Eventually, the internet became the prime place to watch the latest anime while simultaneously fostering relationships between anime fans (Eng 2012: 163 & 167).


Punk in Mexico

Scenes: Mexico City Punk

This is a short film about the punk scene in Mexico City, Mexico.

“Where Mexico City’s Punks Are Welcome”

This video shows some spaces where punks are able to partake in their subculturist activities in Mexico City, Mexico.

Anime in the United States

Anime Expo 2018 Cosplay Highlights

This video highlights outfits from the 2018 annual Anime Expo in Los Angeles, California.

Top 10 Americans in Anime

This video shows the 10 most popular American characters in Anime.

Scholarship and Additional Resources

Book cover of "Race, Place and Globalization: Youth Cultures in a Changing World" by Anoop Nayak.

Race, Place and Globalization: Youth Cultures in a Changing World by Anoop Nayak.

Description from publisher’s website

What does it mean to be young in a changing world? How are migration, settlement and new urban cultures shaping young lives? And in particular, are race, place and class still meaningful to contemporary youth cultures? This path-breaking book shows how young people are responding differently to recent social, economic and cultural transformations. From the spirit of white localism deployed by de-industrialized football supporters, to the hybrid multicultural exchanges displayed by urban youth, young people are finding new ways of wrestling with questions of race and ethnicity. Through globalization is whiteness now being displaced by black culture — in fashion, music and slang — and if so, what impact is this having on race politics? Moreover, what happens to those people and places that are left behind by changes in late modernity? By developing a unique brand of spatial cultural studies, this book explores complex formations of race and class as they arise in the subtle textures of whiteness, respectability and youth subjectivity. This is the first book to look specifically at young ethnicities through the prism of local-global change. Eloquently written, its riveting ethnographic case studies and insider accounts will ensure that this book becomes a benchmark publication for writing on race in years to come.

Book cover of "Looking West?: Cultural Globalization and Russian Youth Culture" by Hilary Pilkington

Looking West?: Cultural Globalization and Russian Youth Culture by Hilary Pilkington.

Description from publisher’s website

Russian youth culture has been a subject of great interest to researchers since 1991, but most studies to date have failed to consider the global context. Looking West? engages theories of cultural globalization to chart how post-Soviet Russia’s opening up to the West has been reflected in the cultural practices of its young people.

Visitors to Russia’s cities often interpret the presence of designer clothes shops, Internet cafés, and a vibrant club scene as evidence of the “Westernization” of Russian youth. As Looking West? shows, however, the younger generation has adopted a “pick and mix” strategy with regard to Western cultural commodities that reflects a receptiveness to the global alongside a precious guarding of the local. The authors show us how young people perceive Russia to be positioned in current global flows of cultural exchange, what their sense of Russia’s place in the new global order is, and how they manage to “live with the West” on a daily basis.

Looking West? represents an important landmark in Russian-Western collaborative research. Hilary Pilkington and Elena Omel’chenko have been at the heart of an eight-year collaboration between the University of Birmingham (U.K.) and Ul’ianovsk State University (Russia). This book was written by Pilkington and Omel’chenko with the team of researchers on the project—Moya Flynn, Ul’iana Bliudina, and Elena Starkova.

Book cover of "Global Youth?: Hybrid Identities, Plural Worlds" edited by Pam Nilan and Carles Feixa.

Global Youth?: Hybrid Identities, Plural Worlds edited by Pam Nilan and Carles Feixa.

Description from publisher’s website

This innovative collection of studies by international youth researchers, critically addresses questions of ‘global’ youth, incorporating material from regions as diverse as Sydney, Tehran, Dakar and Manila, and advancing our knowledge about young people around the globe. Exploring specific local youth cultures whilst mediating global mass media and consumption trends, this book traces subaltern ‘youth landscapes’ and tells subaltern ‘youth stories’ previously invisible in predominantly western youth cultural studies and theorizing. The chapters here serve as a refutation of the colonialist discourse of cultural globalization.

Showcasing previously unpublished youth research from outside the English-speaking world alongside the work of well-known researchers such as Huq and Holden, these accounts of youth cultural practices highlight much that is predictably different, but also a great deal of common ground. This book goes inside creative cultural formation of youth identities to critically examine the global in the local. Bringing together an internationally diverse group of researchers, who describe and analyze youth cultures throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania, this volume presents the first comprehensive review of global youth cultures, practices and identities, and as such is a valuable read for students and researchers of youth studies, cultural studies and sociology.

Book cover of "Youthscapes: The Popular, the National, the Global" edited by Sunaina Maira and Elisabeth Soep.

Youthscapes: The Popular, the National, the Global edited by Sunaina Maira and Elisabeth Soep.

Description from publisher’s website:

Young people, it seems, are both everywhere and nowhere. The media are crowded with images of youth as deviant or fashionable, personifying a society’s anxieties and hopes about its own transformation. However, theories of globalization, nationalism, and citizenship tend to focus on adult actors. Youthscapes sets youth at the heart of globalization by exploring the meanings young people have created for themselves through their engagements with popular cultures, national ideologies, and global markets.

The term “youthscapes” places local youth practices within the context of ongoing shifts in national and global forces. Using this framework, the book revitalizes discussions about youth cultures and social movements, while simultaneously reflecting on the uses of youth as an academic and political category. Tracing young people’s movements across physical and imagined spaces, the authors examine various cases of young people as they participate in social relations; use and invent technology; earn, spend, need, and despise money; comprise target markets while producing their own original media; and create their own understandings of citizenship. The essays examine young Thai women working in the transnational beauty industry, former child soldiers in Sierra Leone, Latino youth using graphic art in political organizing, a Sri Lankan refugee’s fan relationship with Jackie Chan, and Somali high school students in the United States and Canada. Drawing on methodologies and frameworks from multiple fields, such as anthropology, sociology, and film studies, the volume is useful to those studying and teaching issues of youth culture, popular culture, globalization, social movements, education, and media.

By focusing on the intersection between globalization studies and youth culture, the authors offer a vital contribution to the development of a new, interdisciplinary approach to youth culture studies.

Works Cited:

Eckes, Alfred, and Zeiler, Thomas. 2003. Globalization and the American century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Eng, Lawrence. 2012. Anime and Manga Fandom as Networked Culture. Pp. 158-78 in Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World, edited by Ito Mizuko, Okabe Daisuke, and Tsuji Izumi. Yale University Press, 2012.

Haenfler, R. (2006). Straight Edge: Hardcore Punk, Clean Living Youth, and Social Change. New Brunswick, New Jersey; London: Rutgers University Press.

Haenfler, R. (2014). Subcultures: The Basics. Routledge.

Mirabella, Marita. 2017. Heavy Metal and Globalization Reception study on the Metal community in the Global South. Master’s Thesis, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University.

O’Connor, Alan. 2003. Punk Subculture in Mexico and the Anti-globalization Movement: A Report from the Front. New Political Sciences, 25:1, 43-53

O’Connor, Alan. 2004. Punk and Globalization: Spain and MexicoInternational Journal of Cultural Studies, 7(2), 175–195.

Wallach, Jeremy. 2008. Living the Punk Lifestyle in Jakarta. Ethnomusicology, 52(1), 98-116.

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