Minimalism as a Deviant Subculture

We are told in advertising that appearance is important. Individual style and appearance transmits a form of communication.

As revealed in Dick Hebdige’s article: style is a form of intentional communication. The way an individual chooses to present themselves (through the clothes they wear and their personal style) transmits messages and these messages are “undoubtedly significant” (110). Hebdige focuses on subcultures who go against mainstream style and rules. These subcultures have a distinguished style and purposely display their own codes (often opposite of the status quo). They communicate “significant difference” which is the ambition of their “spectacular style” (Hebdige, 102).

Hebdige’s work uses punk style as an example to further illustrate his points and ensure understanding. The styles of subcultures are chosen specifically and purposely and they rebel against mainstream style. This is distinctly seen with punks.

“They [subcultures] are, as we have seen, cultures of conspicuous consumption — even when, as with the skinheads and the punks, certain types of consumption are conspicuously refused — and it is through the distinctive rituals of consumption, through style, that the subculture at once reveals its ‘secret’ identity and communicates its forbidden meanings. It is basically the way in which commodities are used in subculture which mark the subculture off from more orthodox cultural formations.” Dick Hebdige, pg. 102.

This quote summarizes the main gist of the Hebdige’s work. It explains that although subcultures may be completely different from one another they all share a common feature of revolting the mainstream style and expectations. Their styles and choices contain meanings and display their own codes which they intend to share.

This is seen in the contemporary style of minimalism. Although minimalism is not as distinct of a subculture as the punks. It is a subculture which rejects mainstream culture and seeks to create its own rules and ways of living.

In today’s consumer culture we are constantly bombarded with advertisements and messages advising that to achieve happiness we must accumulate things and possess as much as possible.

We have been told that a good life is a life found in things and possessions. Status is seen in the clothes one wears, their accessories, the car they drive, the phone they use, their interior decor, and the list goes on. The belief that more is better has promoted the notion that happiness can be purchased. It encourages consumers to continue to buy in order to achieve happiness and status. We are living in this fallacy everyday and it is easy to get caught up in it.

Minimalists challenge and go against this consumerist way of thinking.

Minimalism is a philosophy and practice where followers remove any objects and possessions that they deem unnecessary in their lives. They only own and purchase things that will enhance their lives.

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things that are most valued to an individual and the removal of everything else that distract from it. Minimalists do not own much as the philosophy is centred around “simplicity, clarity, and singleness”.

Minimalists rebel against contemporary status quo ways of thinking and living. They free themselves from consumerism and seek happiness outside of material possessions. They achieve freedom from overwhelm, guilt, worry, from the trappings of the consumer culture we live our lives in.
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