This Is England

This Is England (2005) is a film that depicts key attributes of subcultures. Directed by Shane Meadows, it is set in 1983 and tells the story of a young boy who gets in with an older group of skinheads. A key scene in the film explores the reshaping ident

This Is England (2005) is a film that depicts key attributes of subcultures. Directed by Shane Meadows, it is set in 1983 and tells the story of a young boy who gets in with an older group of skinheads. A key scene in the film explores the reshaping identity through the consumption of fashion and music. The sociologist Dick Hebdige uses the concept of ‘homology’ in analysing subcultures. This scene illustrates the visual codes of the group and considers what makes up the homology of skinhead culture.

This is a very clear representation of belonging to a subculture and expressing one's identity through fashion and music. What are the trademarks of that subculture as represented in this scene?:

? Skinhead haircuts

? Braces

? Red DMs

? Jeans (turned up at the bottom)

? Ben Sherman shirts

? Fred Perry shirts

? Music – reggae soundtrack

? Posters

? ska revival groups like the Specials

? Trojan, Jamaican record label

? The Harder They Come, a film starring Jimmy Cliff, the reggae singer

Below is a more comprehensive breakdown of skinhead style:

? Short hair: between a 2 and 3 grade clip-guard for men; feathercuts for girls

? Army surplus boots or Dr. Martens; brogues; loafers

? Sta-Prest flat-fronted trousers; Jeans (Levi, Lee or Wrangler) with turn-ups to show off boots (many skinheads would sit in a bath of water with their shrink-to-fit Levi 501 jeans to get the extreme skinny-legged look)

? Button-down gingham shirts by brands such Ben Sherman or Brutus (the size of the check denoted your place in the gang – the larger the check the more authority you had)

? Polo shirts by brands such Fred Perry

? Braces

? Fitted blazers; MA-1 type flight jackets (popular brands: Alpha and Warrior)

? Denim jackets; Crombie overcoats

? Suits made of two-tone fabric that changes colour in different light or in a Prince of Wales or houndstooth check pattern

? pork pie hats; trilbies

Skinheads had a group identity that was aggressively proletarian, puritanical and chauvinist. Phil Cohen (1972) has described the uniform as a 'kind of caricature of the model worker'. He argues that the skinhead ensemble represents a 'metastatement about the whole process of social mobility.’ This was a way of escaping the Skinheads’ gritty industrial reality.

 

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deepa venkitesh
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