Countercultures and the Demand for Change: To What Extent Does Mass Culture Identify Through Their Causes?

In this view of abstraction and vantage points in which the relation between commodity and the buyer referred by Marx as “representative of money confronting commodities” created by the dominate culture by methods that determine the role in which popular culture plays. A reciprocal effect of this interactive system results directly from the bourgeois ideology’s role determined behavior, although highly asymmetrical. (Ollman 2003)

Through cultural signifiers, youth counterculture serves Corporate America’s new ideology of business, it is a stage in the development of the values of the middle class that symbolizes the endless cycle of infringement against these ideals. “By these means we develop references of greater and greater abstractness, and metaphor, the primitive symbolization of abstraction, becomes possible metaphor, in the most general sense, is the use of one reference to a group of things between which a given relation holds, for the purpose of facilitating the discrimination of an analogous relation in another group.” (Ogden, Richards 1923)

cause 1
Figure 1 Berry (Source: 2016)

Art and audience: The role of art and its’ influence on popular culture.

In understanding the relationship between the dominate culture and countercultures cycle of conflict and absorption we should look at the role that art plays historically within the current system of production.  Neo bohemia, social and post-modern subcultures from New York abstract expressionism, emerging into pop culture can be seen from the beat generation, free jazz, experimental music, film, theatre, and dance.  “Post modernity definitely presents itself as anti-modernity”
(Crowley, Jobling 1996)

Avant-garde in the sense of post modernity seeks to employ social or political change with graphic inventions more aligned with these projects. Like the Dadaists of the 1910s they seek to upset conventional mores. (Crowley, Jobling 1996) In the 60s graphics began to experiment more with ideologies borrowed from artists movements, mass production, marketing and the effect that capitalism had on every day and intellectual life. This in turn changed the way the dominate culture communicated to popular culture.

Bourgeoisie ideology was challenged in this same period that the youth countercultures were increasingly becoming a point of interest to Corporate America by a band of artists who focused their attention on common consumer items that were flooding the marketplace. This examination may have created a niche market of ideological resistance resulting in a realization to popular success. This culture challenged post war America into a constant dialog over advertising. Warhol in particular, was fascinated with the subject of celebrity and the ordinary in mass culture and it was in this graphical context that he forced viewers to see the mechanical reproductions of this same likeness in items of common goods. Although criticized over its inconsistency towards consumerism and the boundaries between pop culture and high art, pop art represented a creative response to the control of the bourgeoisie and the angst of American youth. (Misiroglu 2009)

cause 2
Figure 2 Warhol (Source 2012)

Warhol conveys the epitome of mass production of the bourgeoisie.

Starbucks activism and your green dollar

Like the 1960s and 1970s, many Americans today are disheartened with the current state of affairs, distrustful of the government’s agenda, and frightened for the fate of the planet. This ideology has presented a culture as an alternative against the system who imposes the opposing values.

Initiatives help in creating new cultures in the millennium and their revived interest in handmade, spiritual and local alternatives to the mainstream; savvy markers have quickly recognized this new market. “Niche markets demonstrate how this tends to go.” (Curcio, 2016)

Figure 3 and 4  Brashear, S. (Source:

“Starbucks has long been a promoter of sustainable coffee-growing practices, paying a premium price to encourage farmers to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices.” (Marketing 2016)

“Countercultures can accomplish a great deal of good as a counterbalance of the mainstream.” (McKenna 2016) History proves that niche markets demonstrate that as demand for products grow then the bourgeoisie will create a market to meet these demands. Green or sustainable marketing employs various methodologies in which some businesses devote their mission statements to green practices and the social ideologies that stimulate consumerism. Trends like yoga, fair trade products, high priced organic food movements, are all being met by Corporate America. “This evidences that consumers may have more power than they realize.” (Curio 2016).


Crowley and Jobling, C. a., 1996. Graphic Design Reproduction and Representation Since 1800. New York: Manchester University Press.

Curcio, J., 2016. The Rebel Commodity. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 01 2017].

Curcio, J., 2016. There Is No Movement, Apply Within. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 11 01 2017].

Misiroglu, G., 2015. American Countercultures: An Encyclopedia of Non Conformists, Alternative Lifestyles, and Radical Ideas in U.S. History. ed. New York: Routledge.

Ollman, B., 2003. Dance of the Dialectic An Investigation into the dialectical method of Karl Marz. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 05 03 2017].

Ogden and Richards, I. a. O. C. K., 1923. The Meaning of Meaning. New York: Harvest/HBJ Book.

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