In my world, I want to create cultures resembling cultures of old Earth ages. This applies both to state structure and culture. (e.g. ancient Egypt revival)

Since this does not happen spontaneously, I ask you: what causes subcultures and cultural traits to appear?

Hippies appeared because of war (Vietnam), punks appeared because of oppression (and conservatism), same for rock'n'roll and metal, several art branches appeared as trying to make something new (Picasso, postmodernism, etc), several ideologies appeared to help the weak and injured ones (nacism, communism, several sects and religions, and so on), what else can be a factor?


2 Answers 2


One thing to consider about cultural phenomenon like rock'n'roll and hippies is that they rise out of cultural mixing. Rock'n'roll for instance grew out of rythm'n'blues and country, or rather out of black culture in america mixing with white poor culture. From there you can go on to say that it grows as a way of young people looking for a way to be in opposition to the the established structures, but it doesn't originate in that drive.

Hippies also didn't appear because of the Vietnam war, they arose from beatnik culture and a new western fascination with eastern spiritualism.

Similar things can also be said about older cultures, where it seems again that interesting things happen when people meet.

Consider for example what happens when early Christians travel to Greece and Rome to spread their faith and mix with the cultures they meet. Christianity goes from being a small, eccentric mystery cult to a sophisticated and state sanctioned religion in a relatively short time.

Another thing to consider is how cities and states grow in relation to trade routes. For example, the biggest cities in the UK were the port cities. This is also where cultures mix and interesting things happen.

Another earlier example is how presocratic philosophy has been theorised to have grown out of culture melding in the Mediterranean area.

It is when we meet other people that do things differently than ourselves that we gain the ability to question how things have been done in the past. This is important to consider when it comes to youthful rebellion and cultural differences between the classes, if the difference is more than how much they drink and how foul the language is, then the inspiration had to have come from somewhere.

And also furthermore people who adopt traits and aspects of somebody else's culture stands a lot freer to change it through their interpretation and desires than the original holders of the culture. Take the high heeled shoe for instance. It originates from Persian riding boots used by men and was imported to Europe as a masculine fashion, worn even by kings. But in Europe it was first and foremost a fashion and as such it wasn't bound in interpretation by traditional use. The shoe was kept, the idea behind if mostly forgotten.

Similar things can happen with musical traditions or ceremonies when they are taken up by new people.


A Subculture will appear because a group of people who have something in common want to distance themselves from everyone else, or at least the majority or a certain other group of people.

Young people feel the adults don't respect peace and are too warlike? You get a peace movement that may very well adopt music, clothing and even language styles to identify with each other and set themselves apart from those warlike others. Fans of a band or music style want to express their fandom stronger? They start dressing like the musicians they like, maybe behave like them, favour the food that's advertised by those musicians. Rich people want to make sure everyone knows they're not like the riff-raff? Send the kids to private schools, don't use slang words, dress like the noblemen of the last century.

However big or small the thing that binds the group together initially is, all that's required is the desire to show that these people as a group belong together, and everyone else is not part of it.

So if you wanted to bring back ancient cultures, the routes I'd recommend would be:

  • The upper class wants to REALLY set themselves apart from the unwashed masses, and clearly ancient rome was a time of enlightenment (or greece, or whatever you want to use). So they start wearing togas and lounging around on roman-style couches on their parties. The more dedicated (or eccentric, or crazy) will start dressing like that outside of those parties too, setting an example that others follow. Some upstarts want to show just how much they're IN and start making their butlers and housekeepers dress as slaves...

  • In protest and mockery, a band dresses themselves up as egyptian gods and produces a music video where they whip slaves building pyramids for them, or something like that. Young people who are already annoyed at the 1% and their decadence jump right on that bandwagon - cool kids start getting hieroglyphics tattooed, the even cooler kids start dressing up as pharaohs, slaves, slavedrivers and whatnot - to protest at first, to belong and because it's cool later.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 The real world neoclassical movement was largely a reaction do the Baroque period which preceded it $\endgroup$
    – Kys
    Jun 9, 2016 at 15:26

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