Beyond Subculture and Post-subculture? The Case of Virtual Psytrance
Recently, there has been an engaging debate in youth studies between the efficacy of subcultural theory versus post-subcultural perspectives. While positions have ranged from reinterpretation and alternatives to youth subcultural theory, to a return to some form of subcultural analysis and emphasis on leisure inequalities, equally there have been both critiques and defences of post-subcultural and postmodernist perspective emphasising the fragmented and transitory aspects of youth styles. However, much of the debate here has taken place on the terrain of theory and critique/counter-critique, rather than in terms of empirical studies. This article presents an exploration of the global subculture of ‘virtual psytrancers' (people who visit psytrance dance style discussion forums on the Internet), while also investigating the validity of both subcutural and post-subcultural theories. A total of 569 virtual psytrancers from over 40 countries were involved in an Internet-based, online-questionnaire-based study, which assessed the shared attitudes, global spaces and international connections of the group. The findings presented here reject a simple theoretical dichotomy, and challenge the notion that subcultures must be primarily local (rather than global/virtual) and singularly class-based, as well as simultaneously refuting postmodern conceptions that global youth styles are, by definition, depthless, transitory and internally fragmented.