CIU 211 Cultural Perspectives – A view of a Subculture

Today i discuss the topic of Emo’s within subculture.




For those who are unaware, Subcultures are a group of people or groups that are distinctively different to the norms of society. Culture is what makes up the populations expressive belief or people. It can be found in religion, art, books, films, language, social conventions, etc.

“In composition it is made up of different ethnic groups, it is stratified into classes, it is differentiated into regions, it is separated into rural and urban settlements, each having its distinctive cultural characteristics. Yet superimposed upon these differences are the common elements of official language, institutions, and customs which knit it together to form a nation.“ (Oberg, 1954)

When people interact with culturalised music or entertainment, that is where subculture enters the picture. Within the human society, we will see different cultures and subcultures. Small civilisations may not have as many subcultures as large industrial societies, but let’s take a look at a small few of the many that we have today.

Ever since the industrial era, subcultures started to sprout more often and frequently. There were greasers, jocks, preppies, academics, etc. Subcultures have also been known to be involved in crime such as the mafia, gangsters (crips, bloods), MS13 (Mara salvatrucha).

The topic I am going to discuss today is Emos. Now this is a very touchy topic and i am going to do my best to analyse the topic safely. Why are Emos seen or often labelled as ‘depressed’ or ‘suicidal’ by society? Is this statement true to be believed, or is it completely wrong? I am going to give my input and research various sources to base my own opinion on the whole discussion and back it up with raw evidence and statistics.

Before we start, we must analyse what an Emo is. Emo, an abbreviation of the terms “Emocore” or “emotional hardcore”, is a melodic sub-genre of punk rock music, characterised by “emotional” or personal themes (Bennett 605)

Emo is very similar to the Goth style which express themselves by wearing very dark clothing, black dyed hair.

The school of mental health projects states that looking at it from a mental perspective, Emo’s are often stereotyped as being emotional, depressed and are prone to suicide and self injury. He also references Martin, and says that Martin (2006) states a way that some have implied to distinguish Emo’s from Goth’s; Emo’s are known to hate themselves, while on the other side of the spectrum, Goth’s are known to hate everyone. I don’t the comment stated is accurate, as it is generalizing Goth’s and Emos.

The Emo subculture was established in the late 80’s and it was barely present or known to the general public until the late 90’s (1999-2000’s). It was formed from the punk era, a national standpoint in history. This was something that changed subculture to what we know it as today.

Brian Bailey (2005), from the University of Rochester states that

Something that is generally agreed upon with the origin of Emo music or Emo, was in the 1980’s. Washington, D.C promoted the Emo scene, generating groups such as minor threat. The music emerged from the punk rock roots to include major themes such as rebellion, disdain for authority, and rejection of mainstream music industry and it’s culture.




Now that we’ve seen the generation of the Emo subculture, we will discuss the main topic more comprehensively rather than briefly. As the Emo subculture was formed from the 1980’s, it is known to be ‘the last true subculture’ according to i-D (2016), an inspiration fashion culture website.

The Emo scene blew up through the internet. their main way of communication is mainly through, Myspace, Facebook, chat rooms, and blogs.

From the viewpoint of society, Emo’s are known to be suicidal, depressed, and harmful to their own bodies.

Is this true?

Let’s look at some statistics of suicide, posts by Emo’s, Emo’s opinions, and rates of suicide from polls to get a perspective from different various sources.

NME states on their website on a news story that the band ‘my chemical romance’ was related to the death of a 13 year old girl, and apparently the ‘emo’ band was blamed. Roger Sykes, the coroner, stated that her music was related to the death. She was obsessed with the band, and hannah had discussed with friends about the ‘glamour of suicide.’

An article on the BMC Psychiatry website, with the title of “Why alternative teenagers self-harm: exploring the link between non-suicidal self-injury, attempted suicide and adolescent identity.”

Have conducted an anonymous survey of 452 students in germany with different subcultures, races, cultures, etc. With such subcultures like , jocks, goth, emo, punk,  academics, as well as their socioeconomic status. Self harm (suicide and NSSI) was assessed using a “Self-harm Behavior Questionnaire and the Functional Assessment of Self-Mutilation (FASM).”

The results came back with an astounding result according to the medical BMC medical central

“Alternative” teenagers self-injured more frequently (NSSI 45.5% vs. 18.8%), repeatedly self-injured, and were 4–8 times more likely to attempt suicide (even after adjusting for social background) than their non-Alternative peers. They were also more likely to self-injure for autonomic, communicative and social reasons than other adolescents.

(Young et al, BMC., 2014)


And in 2006, an examination of many adolescents, (of age 19) stated those who were to identify themselves as ’Goth’ were more likely to attempt suicide (46.7%, Goth; 5.4% non-Goth) or engage in NSSI (46.7%, Goth; 3.1% non-Goth) than those who did not, even after adjusting for social background

(Young, 2006)


Here are some more references, surveys, and statistics on the suicide rate of teenagers, and subcultures.

Cooper, C. (2015). Goths ‘may be more likely to suffer from depression or to self-harm’. [online] The Independent. Available at: [Accessed 4 Apr. 2016].


West, P. (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Apr. 2016].



According to ‘’ It is thought that around 13% of young people try to hurt themselves from ages 11-16. And a massive increase of 70% of self harm from 2014, and it is going to increase according to them. This is a big worry. Now I’m not saying my opinion matters or anything, but I used to actually identify myself as an ‘emo’ at one stage of my life. I had the whole package. I suffered from clinical depression, and I actually was developing an anorexic disorder; I tried to commit suicide multiple times, and this self harm and suicide rate thing is a worry to me, and the community.

There are many different opinions on this matter, but Emos express themselves and their opinions. They are finding themselves, and they are finding who they are.

A lot of being emo is about the music, and they love to share their interests and find happiness in seeing other people who are just like them.

They all share an interest in their music and make happy and bonding friendships between each other

(Schmit, 2016)


So why is emo such a big attraction to a lot of teenagers?



Here is a statement from George on the article, by Schmit on “Exploring Dress and Behavior of the Emo Subculture “

“To me, emo represents what I wish I could have looked like before I realized it was cool, it was okay, it was acceptable to be different. To not wear Abercrombie and Fitch. To not have to hide behind something else that it seemed like everyone else liked and that made me look so ordinary. To be okay with showing my emotions and listening to music that beat them out of me so hard sometimes it felt like I couldn’t breathe because it just [understood] me. My friends called me emo and sensitive at school…and I didn’t really like it, but that’s okay. I’m okay because I’m emotional.” – George1 , age 18 (Schmit, 2016, P.5)


To conclude:

After an extensive amount of research on the subculture that is ‘emo’s’, I have discovered that there are a lot of concerns and conspiracies within the subculture, however this doesn’t take in consideration that there is more to them than just that. They like to share their emotions together, listen to their music, discuss various topics amongst themselves to fight things that they may be feeling whether it good or bad, just like any subculture.



Bailey, B. (2016). Emo Music and Youth Culture. [online] Available at:


i-D. (2016). emo was the last true subculture | read | i-D. [online] Available at:


Anon, (2016). Information Resource. [online] Available at:


Phillipov, M. (2009). “Just Emotional People”? Emo Culture and the Anxieties of Disclosure. M/C Journal, [online] 12(5). Available at:


NME.COM. (2016). Emo music attacked over teen suicide | NME.COM. [online] Available at:


Health24. (2015). Emo teens and the rising suicide rate in SA. [online] Available at:


Young, R., Sproeber, N., Groschwitz, R., Preiss, M. and Plener, P. (2014). Why alternative teenagers self-harm: exploring the link between non-suicidal self-injury, attempted suicide and adolescent identity. BMC Psychiatry, 14(1), p.137.


Young, R. (2006). Prevalence of deliberate self harm and attempted suicide within contemporary Goth youth subculture: longitudinal cohort study. BMJ, 332(7549), pp.1058-1061.


Cooper, C. (2015). Goths ‘may be more likely to suffer from depression or to self-harm’. [online] The Independent. Available at:


West, P. (2016). [online] Available at:


Schmit, K. (2016). [online] Available at: (2016). About Emo Youth Subculture. [online] Available at:
Oberg, K. (2016). Culture shock. [online] Available at:





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s