The Exclusivity of Subcultures

How subcultures can be unwelcoming and how that ties into the gatekeeping in the publishing industry.
Profile picture of torikaewkhong

Created by torikaewkhong

Published on Sep 13, 2023
woman reading on the couch
Photo by Seven Shooter on Unsplash

More often than not, a subculture that derives from a dominant culture will include traces of said culture’s influence in many aspects. Because a subculture originated from a dominant culture, key elements of said culture are ingrained into those subcommunities from the beginning and by default. These influences lie in factors such as but are not limited to; people, style, and ideologies. 

Due to the heavy influence of various dominant cultures, some subcultures and their community may not be so inclusive. The limited perceptions and expectations of what makes a subculture “right” have led to communities pushing away things that are deemed to not fit within the definitions of specific subcultures.

This type of ostracization can range from aspects such as clothing style and music taste to things that are considered one’s core identity, like gender and race. This can be referred to as gatekeeping. Gatekeeping makes it difficult for people who do not fit the cookie-cutter standards to integrate themselves and have a voice within the community.

A notable example of this is the book community itself, specifically within young adult fiction. As someone who's loved reading my entire life, I've constantly compared myself to the various protagonists of my favorite fantasy books growing up. More often than not, they are white, light-skinned, and straight. Everything that I am not. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing a protagonist who is white, straight, or of a majority group in any form. It is only when that becomes the dominant content viewed as marketable that it starts to become overly exclusive. Stories that are deemed unmarketable are rejected and left at that, but factors such as race, gender, or sexuality should not be the indicator of marketability. As a result of that, it becomes difficult for the voices of minorities to be heard and welcomed in the publishing industry.

However, despite the initial denial, there are times when those who do not fit the expectations of a subculture can be embraced by the community. Whether it's right or wrong, by conforming to different aspects of their own identity and catering to the general audience, a minority can assimilate themselves into a subculture that may not have been open to accommodating them in the first place. What’s most important to the culture of these communities is that you need to fit in.

Though it's definitely gotten better in recent years, we still need to work hard to make sure that everyone, regardless of their identity, is accepted into their respective communities. The best spaces will always be inclusive spaces.

More for you