HAT Forum: Subcultures and Society

HAT Forum
Saturday 6 December 2014, 11:00-1:00
519 Church St. Meeting Room #303
Proposed by: Richard Dowsett


Canada acknowledges the powerful effects of traditional Mass media (TV, radio, print) by disallowing certain portrayals and presentations (sex, swearing, smoking) or limiting them according to voluntary codes of ethics and standards, in the interest of the public good. 

New media has facilitated the flourishing of sub-cultures (blog sites, social media, video gaming etc.) not subject to any such community oversight. Their independent “in-group” nature also makes them sensitive to scrutiny from “outsiders” and resistant to any change that is seen to come from them.
1.    1. Do we believe that immersion in and exposure to a subculture's values and norms affects the behaviour of its members in the wider world? Is this belief supported by scientific research or study?
2.    2. Should the greater society seek to have any input on sub-cultures if their norms and values are seen as detrimental to the greater society?
3.    3. Anita Sarkeesian on her website feministfrequency.com created a series of videos on the depiction of women in video games. Even though she never called for anything more than open consideration of the effects that video games were having on this sub-culture’s members, she has been vilified and subject to a massive online backlash called “GamerGate”. Should she “butt out” of this space or should she be defended on the grounds of “free and open inquiry”?
4.    4. Online cultures blur the lines between public and private spheres. Their open and easy access by anyone on the web makes them seem public yet their strong norms, unique culture and relationships mean they act like private clubs when approached. Should a private organization, club or sub-culture be subject to scrutiny through the lens of the greater society? In what ways is such scrutiny beneficial/appropriate or detrimental/intrusive?
5.    5. Think about religions as subcultures and apply the above questions and consideration to them as you have to online subculture