Difference Between Subculture and Counterculture


Main Difference

The main difference between Subculture and Counterculture is that Subculture refers to the small group present in a large cultural group, whereas Counterculture is a group of people against the main culture.

Subculture vs. Counterculture

Subculture means another cultural group in the existing group, whereas the counterculture group is the people with a different ideology that is not matched with the ideology of the main culture. People of subcultures follow the rules of the main culture and share the same values, while people of counterculture are against the rules of the main culture and do not ready to share the same values. In the subculture, people are happy with the existing regulations, whereas, in the counterculture, people are against the regulations of the main culture and try to change them.


People are not protesting against their existing culture in the subculture group, while people are actively protesting against the main culture in the counterculture. In the case of the subculture, people are happy to live with the main culture community. In the case of counterculture, people are highly against and unhappy to lie with the rules of mainstream culture. Subculture groups are based on the same interests and likes, while counterculture groups are based on the same interests and dislikes. Subculture does not have any political implications. The counterculture has political implications.

In subculture behavior of people is normal and in a positive sense. In counterculture, people are with negative behavior that deviates from social norms and values. In the subculture, people accept the dominant culture. In counterculture, people are not even ready to accept the dominant culture. People of subculture possess different norms but accept the mainstream culture and follow their rules. People of counterculture possess such norms and values that are incompatible with the mainstream culture.


Comparison Chart

A subculture is a small group that follows the general rules.A counterculture is a small group against the general rules.
Mainstream Culture
In favor ofAgainst
Doesn’t protest againstProtest against the main culture
Rules and Regulations
Follow the rules of the main cultureAgainst the rules of mainstream culture
Organizational culture etcReligious, racial and nationality culture, etc

What is Subculture?

A subculture is a small group of such people that share their ideology and values with the mainstream culture. The people of the subculture also possess their own set of rules and some regulations that show their own identity. Subculture groups do not go against the dominant culture. However, they have their own rules and other capabilities or identity that they can distinguish from mainstream culture. For instance, a group of youth can be a subculture; a group in university can also be a subculture, a group of music culture, a group of bodybuilders, etc.

People in the subcultures exhibit their own style, dressing, rules, and regulations, language, etc. Such values also reflect the dominant culture. Therefore, we can say that subculture does not oppose the dominant culture or main culture. Some subcultures also have their own language or vocabulary that can only be understood by the group members. Furthermore, some companies also pose some subcultural groups within a company to help in the functioning of the company. Such groups are also named as organizational groups. Subculture is not a threat and does not influence the negative effect on society.

Small companies are not widely distributed, but large companies are like to create subculture groups. People of a particular subculture group will change their appearance and adapt some changes to represent a particular group. Subculture group is normally developed in such people who shared the same interests and same ideology e.g., music, trends, hobbies, and anything through which people inspire and admit to change their lifestyle.

What is Counterculture?

In counterculture, the ideology and other concepts of group people are always opposite to the main culture. As we know, they are not even ready to share some values and are always active in protesting against the mainstream culture to change their rules and regulations according to their own desires. For instance, during the Vietnam War, the hippie movement of people against the United States and protesting against the government to their desired values. People start to live outside the established social norms and values.

People of countercultures having their sets of rules and start to show negative behavior and show an intentionally wish to get separate from the main culture and to reject the mainstream cultural rules and values. Infect, they show an active and harsh protest against the mainstream culture. In such a situation of counterculture, group people are highly against the main culture of a specific community. However, there are such members in a community who are stick to accept the social culture and other behaviors of society. There are also such groups who do not accept the social ethics and norms.

Such groups like to build their own rules and norms by neglecting the main culture. Such groups are named as counter-culture groups. The main feature of such groups is that they have their ethics and set of rules, which are against the mainstream culture. For instance, a group of gays and lesbians in a community where they are against the main culture. Counterculture is such a particular community, which shows opposition to the dominant culture.

Key Differences

  1. Subculture shares the values of the main society, whereas counterculture has its own demands and values.
  2. Subcultures are mostly accepted by society; on the other hand, counterculture turns down in society.
  3. Subculture never reacts against the prevalent culture; conversely, counterculture is always reacting against the mainstream culture.
  4. Subculture never shows any political implications; on the flip side, counterculture shows political implications.
  5. Subculture is an organizational type. However, counter culture is based on religion, nationality, etc.
  6. People of subcultures do not go against society, although people of counterculture go against society.
  7. Subculture shares the values of the main culture, contrarily, counterculture against the values of the main culture.
  8. Subculture shows a positive response; on the other side, counterculture always shows a negative response.
  9. Subculture is happy with the decisions of the dominant culture, while counterculture does not accept any decision of the main culture.
  10. In the subculture, people are not protesting against the dominant culture, whether in the counterculture, people are actively protesting against the main culture.


It is concluded that the subculture accepts the mainstream culture and counterculture against the mainstream culture.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson