For this blog entry I am delving into the world of Steampunk! Steampunk is a subculture that I hadn’t even heard about a few months ago. But as I look around me I have noticed a spike in popularity for this peculiar subculture.  As defined by Dick Hebdige in 1979, style serves as a form of aesthetic group membership in mass society. Subcultures serve as a way of standing out from the crowd while still identifying with a group (Hebdige 1979). My first encounters with Steampunk left me a little confused. I picked up on the Victorian time period and machine aesthetic but was still left in the dark about what the purpose of the genre was.  Upon reading further into Steampunk I have learnt that there are various strands of this subculture. I guess the fundamentals of this subculture are a literary influence of some sort (Sherlock Holmes) or a subgenre of science fiction or fantasy, all of which must include technological aspects of the 19th century (JRRL 2010). However, Steampunk also carries with it the same notions of rebellion and anti-fashion. The ‘punk’ element suggests a constant rejection of the mainstream. While the 19th century era can be considered a form of anti-fashion as they are choosing to deliberately disengage with current trends and ideals of fashion.

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I guess the one thing that has caught my attention about this subculture is the current emergence into the mainstream.  This process of businesses commercially adopting styles from subcultures is referred to as subcultural capital (Thornton 1995). This adoption into the mainstream is usually met with screams of horror by true, original members of the subculture; whereas, other members embrace the recognition from the higher levels of the fashion industry.  Liesel Hindmann is author of Steampunk blog ‘The Diary of a Dimension Hopper’ she refers to this rejection of the mainstream as Steamhipsters. “The Steamhipster are those who have a regular temper tantrum anytime anything vaguely Steampunk hits the mainstream” (Hindmann 2014).  One of the best examples of this emergence is in Nicki Minaji’s 2011 video clip for ‘Turn Me On’ in which she wears a 19th century gown, corset and top hat. This is an example of a subculture being taken into the mainstream, in this instance by a pop icon. This example of subcultural capital sees the aesthetic of Steampunk being adopted commercially by a celebrity who isn’t typically idolized within the subculture.  Circumstances such as this compromise the subculture and their rebellion against the mainstream fashion industry.



Thornton, S 1995, Club cultures: music, media and subcultural capital, Wesleyan University Press, United States.

Hebdige, D 1979, Subculture: the meaning of style, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, New York.

JRRL, 2010, What is Steampunk?, weblog, 13 October, viewed 15 September 2014,

Hindmann, L 2014, The diary of a dimension hopper: now is not the time to be a Steamhipster, weblog, 7 February, viewed 15 September 2014,


Hampton , C 2013 ,viewed 15 September 2014,

Hampton , C 2013 ,viewed 15 September 2014,

Nicki Minaji ‘Turn me on’ filmclip 2011, viewed 15 September 2014,