A return to the Chicago school? From the ‘subculture’ of taxi dancers to the contemporary lap dancer

Colosi, Rachela (2010) A return to the Chicago school? From the ‘subculture’ of taxi dancers to the contemporary lap dancer. Journal of Youth Studies, 13 (1). pp. 1-16. ISSN 1367-6261

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There has been much debate about the study of British youth cultures, often
involving the analysis and critique of two dominant theoretical frameworks: the
Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) ‘subcultural’ position and the
‘post-subcultural’ position. This paper, will engage in this debate by offering an
alternative set of arguments, drawing attention to the early empirical contribution
made by the Chicago school of sociology to the study of youth, and the
inadvertent role some of their work played in developing the first model of
‘subculture’. To demonstrate this, the work of Cressey (1932), who explored the
‘social world’ of young female taxi-hall dancers, will be considered, and in
highlighting its relevance to the study of contemporary youth cultures, his work
will be discussed in relation to a recent ethnography of lap dancing in which a
hierarchical occupational subculture of dancers has been identified. Both
Cressey’s (1932) ‘social world’ of taxi dancers and the subculture of the
contemporary lap dancers, share similar features that define the unique, enclosed
worlds of which each respective group is part. By drawing on Cressey (1932) and
this recent study of lap dancers, not only are mainstream notions of youth culture
questioned, but it is suggested that modes of work, as well as leisure, may hold
‘cultural’ significance.

Keywords:youth culture, subculture, ethnography, lap dancing, taxi dancer, Social class, Social work
Subjects:L Social studies > L321 Women's Studies
L Social studies > L300 Sociology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:3666
Deposited On:17 Mar 2011 14:37

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