Some Cultures are geographical or something you’re born into, like being Native American or from New England. Other sub-cultures are things we’re into by choice, hobbies that become a defining part of our personality and a way of life, and there’s a lot of overlap. Here we’ll list both. If you find something here that makes you go, “That’s just weird,” well, that’s kind of the point, too. To give you a taste of the fantastic, beautiful, sometimes really weird people we have here in these separate but United States, here’s a list of 25 Subcultures Within The United States That Are Truly Fascinating.
Fandom culture is alive and well in many parts of the world, and the United States is no different. Some say that fandom started when Sherlock Holmes was killed off in 1893, when public demonstrations of mourning were held for a fictional character, while others say that modern fandom has it’s roots in Japan in the 70’s.
The subculture is characterized by people who are somewhat obsessed or closely identify with certain characters or fictional worlds, though a “fandom” can be built around any shared interest. Fans have Conventions (cons), dress up as said characters (called cosplaying), and form little individual communities around a particular fandom, such as Doctor Who, Harry Potter, or any Anime ever.
LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) culture generally refers to those who are active in LGBT events such as Pride Parades, diversity and awareness campaigns like reaching out to gay or trans-gendered youth, and various political activities. This subculture is widely varied, and there are a million ways you can join or participate. One can be heterosexual and still participate and be considered an “ally,” or one can be two men married in a nice suburban home with two kids and a mini van who are absolutely gay and have nothing to do with the culture at large beyond who they love. You can also just consider yourself a part of the “community,” and vote accordingly. They’re pretty inclusive.
Love it or hate it, there’s definitely a distinct culture in the deep south. Also a few distinct accents. A lot of what is considered traditional “American” culture is from the South. Some of the fundamentals of this culture – good food, hospitality, manners, a strong ingrained respect for personal freedoms and liberties, really neat historical architecture, a strong work ethic, some of the most amazing music God ever made, and a very strong sense of family and community – make deep south culture a beautiful and comforting thing. While there are absolutely some horrid things in the past, the media seems pretty hell bent on sending the message that people who are proud of being from the south are all racists who are married to first cousins, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Some people are born into their subculture; it’s not a choice. Such is the case with Deaf culture, those who are born or become deaf. It’s not just sign language that ties these people together, but often they don’t refer to their lack of hearing as a disability and oppose things like hearing aids and implants that could give them the ability to hear. They have their own art and literature, schools, and tend to communicate very openly and bluntly. It’s a beautiful thing.
The first Koreans started immigrating to the US in the early 1900’s, and now you can find awesome little pockets of Korean culture in most major cities in the US, populated by second, third, and even fourth generation Korean-Americans. Korean BBQ is now a part of mainstream US culture, being one of the most popular cuisines in the US. (Thanks guys!)
Homesteading culture is really a resurgence or new version of the “back to the land” movements, which pop up every few decades or so. It’s people who want to produce as much of their own food as possible on their own land, and escape the urban life into a rural setting. These aren’t full factory farms, but homesteads, usually under 10 acres but some as small as 1/4 acre and in suburbia, and there’s even urban homesteading and gardening. The main focus is producing your own food and being connected to the process of where our food comes from.
West Coast (California)
The West Coast of the United States, particularly California, is definitely different culturally, than say, the mid-west or the south. Aside from being significantly more liberal than most of the East Cost, California has a strong mix of Mexican and Asian influences as well, due to both immigrants in the 20th century and its proximity to Mexico. Statistically, California is one of the most racially diverse states in the US. If sunshine, bright colors, a relaxed pace of life, strict gun control, and good food are your thing, maybe plan a visit to the Golden State. Also avocados – avocados everywhere.
Native Americans & Alaskan Natives
There are over 4 million Native Americans and Alaskan Natives in the US today, and to be honest the differences between these cultures could probably be their own list. Beautiful traditional clothing and jewelry and making the most of using and preserving natural resources without destroying them, Native American culture is a catch all of many different tribes still alive in the US and far outside the mainstream.
Little Havana in Miami is – as the name implies – Cuban culture alive and well in the US. A neighborhood located in Miami, Florida, Little Havana is a colorful and vibrant neighborhood mostly populated by immigrants from Cuba, South and Central America. It’s also worth a visit for the cortados alone.
Video Game "Gamer"
Gamer culture in America represents the more devoted fans and players of what has become one of the largest entertainment industries in the US. Many people in the US play video games of some form (when you realize Candy Crush and The Sims count), and in 2014, more people watched the live League of Legends World Championships than the deciding game of the NBA finals.
Wait until you see number 5!
Sports – from watching games as a die hard fan to being the soccer mom who drives to all the games – are an important and defining part of American society. For people who consider sports a large part of their lives, well, they just operate on different seasons and speak a different language than those who don’t. Even non-sports fans tune into the Superbowl in the US every year as it’s become such a pervasive part of the entertainment industry.
The Amish people are known for plain dress, eschewing technology such as cars and electricity, living in simple rural homes, and valuing hard labor and humility. The men, once married, no longer shave, and the women wear head coverings to show their devotion to God and the church. The largest Amish communities in the US can be found in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.
Parenting styles and theories are as different and varied as families are (are you helicopter or free range? Anti-vax, pro-vax, alt-vax schedule? TV, no-TV, limited TV?), but parents / primary caregivers live in a slightly different world than those without children. While there’s overlap and intertwining for sure, life just changes, as do priorities and responsibilities, after you have a child. Finances take on a whole new meaning when you’re responsible for the well being – and Christmas and Birthdays – of another tiny human. Also your main entertainment. Even if you’re a no TV parent, there’s that one book that you find yourself reciting in traffic…even when the child isn’t even in the car. We aren’t judging.
Military Culture in the United States isn’t only lived by those actively in Service but also their families. While there’s many many more facets and aspects to Military Culture than could possibly be explored here, it’s a culture of self discipline, hierarchy, respect, and ceremony. Military spouses often find close community with other military spouses as they can relate to the difficulties that are unique to families of the enlisted, such as moving to a completely new base/state every few years, or going for months without seeing their spouse when said spouse is stationed overseas.
Theater culture goes back globally for centuries, even before Shakespeare though it’s arguable he popularized it in the Western World. Modern theater culture – from your local high school to Broadway – is alive and well in the United States. Theater people are dedicated to their art, be that acting, directing, lighting, set design, costuming – we could go on. A talented and passionate subculture to be sure and often, not surprisingly, dramatic.
College is a weird time in one’s life. It’s sort of become a prolonged adolescence – you’re definitely not a child, but you’re definitely not an adult, either, at least if you live on campus. Campus culture is often defined by partying and activism as much as academia. While college used to be a place to figure things out, hear new ideas, and have your own ideas and beliefs challenged, there’s a disturbing new trend that calls anything someone doesn’t deem “Progressive” enough to be hate speech that may forever change the college experience by stripping our universities of intellectual diversity. Even so, Campus Culture is a world all unto it’s own.
Pepper culture, or survivalist culture, is pretty weird from the outside, admittedly, but it’s more than just keeping hoards of canned goods and ammo in your basement. Aside from being aware that there are situations other than nuclear fallout wherein it could be prudent to have some necessary supplies stockpiled (food shortages happen, job loss happens, giant hurricanes that ruin everything in your world…happen), pepper culture is also a strong community that values learning skills and being self reliant, should poop hit the fan. While this sounds kind of scary and like they all wear tin foil hats (and maybe some do), if you look at History, there’s arguably reasons to be at least prepared, if not afraid.
UFO believers are alive and well in the United States. We’re not talking about casuals who do the math and assume that in billions of galaxies there is probably intelligent life out there somewhere, but rather people who literally think that there are live aliens or alien bodies being held in Rosewell, New Mexico, and that Aliens have visited earth multiple time and the governments of the world are hiding it. There’s even an entire Wikipedia entry on UFO based religions, or as most would call them “cults.” Also, the have pretty awesome UFO Festivals. The best thing about most UFO believers? They seem to be a fun bunch with a good sense of humor.
Motorcycle Clubs are a very popular thing in the United States. At it’s most basic level, a motorcycle club is a group of people who get together, ride, and participate in activities surrounding motorcycles, often a specific brand or make but also around a religion or Veterans. These clubs are sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association, and the club someone belongs to is often shown on patches on their vest or jacket. There are also a set of clubs known as “outlaws,” and this means that they are not sanctioned by the AMA.
Bronies are a fandom subculture, and while we’ve already covered fandoms, this one is special. Bronies are adult male fans of the cartoon show My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic (adult female fans are called Pegasisters). Before you start to chuckle to yourself and think poorly of Bronies, realize that most of them have college degrees, they’re eschewing modern standards of masculinity, and quite frankly, they don’t care what you think of them. They have monthly meetups to watch episodes, share clothing, plushies, and fanart they’ve created. It might look a little, or a lot, weird from the outside, but let’s be honest, we all have an inner child who still gets excited at bright pretty colors and can appreciate a silly song. These people just take it to the next level, and within that, they find friendship and community. Stay gold, Ponyboys.
Hip-Hop is now a culture and way of life for many people. Though this culture now often crosses over or encompasses rap and other aspects of urban culture, it really started in the Bronx in the 1970’s and, love it or hate it, has had a significant influence on American culture at large.
New Age Spirituality
New Age Spirituality is a decentralized, non specifically codified, spiritual movement. Kind of like a religion, except there’s no holy text, no formal organization or membership. It includes thing such as energy channeling (with or without crystals), reiki healing, and bits and pieces from various religions as each individual practitioner sees fit.
Bodybuilding is sport. It’s also its own subculture and a way of life for many people. It’s driven by the desire for physical perfection, which in this culture means large amounts of muscle and very little fat, and serious intensity in the gym. Also self tanner and very small clothing to show off these hard earned and sculpted physiques at competitions all over the world.
New England is the term used for the geographical region of the uppermost eastern United States, consisting of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, and it definitely has a vibe and culture all it’s own, from the small cool coastal towns that never see temperatures above around 85 degrees Fahrenheit, to haunted houses (they’re everywhere), the most beautiful fall foliage in the US, and its own distinct accents and food. New England even has it’s own regional soda – Moxie.