Growth of the E-Boy and E-Girl Subculture

New Era of Goth/Punk Teens?
The Growing E-Boy and E-Girl Subculture
From hipsters, to the goths, “preppy” kids, and more, everyone seems to have found their inner circle, their subculture. Some trends only last a few weeks, a few months or maybe even a year, while others seem to evolve and adapt with each new generation of youth as time moves forward. One large subculture that most everyone has been aware of for some time is the goth/punk subculture. Most of us tend to think back to the 90s and very early 2000s era of multi-colored hair, spiked belts, heavy makeup and slang like “rawr,” or “XD.” However, it should be no surprise that this subculture has been around for much longer and still exists today, perhaps through the new E-boy and E-Girl phenomenon.

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 Moving forward to 2017, when the popular lip-syncing app, was bought by a company in Beijing and renamed TikTok according to the Vox article TikTok, explained. (Jennings, 2019). From the app itself, to compilations and reposts on other social media platforms, it would seem that this app is among the most popular worldwide. On this app, users of all cultures make videos of their own to share and get to create by themselves or with others. Like most social media, there are labels for everyone and over the last year one popular one that has come up is the whole E-Boy and E-Girl phenomenon. Since it is so new, not everyone knows a lot about it and even some would say they have never heard of this before. 
 It would make sense then to start out with the basics, what exactly is an E-Boy or E-Girl anyway? One answer would be that, “E-girl / E-boy is slang that combines the words “electronic” with “girl” or “boy.” Generally, the label represents people who have a large presence online and tote a specific style influenced by skate culture, goth, KPOP and cosplay” (  Most of them are around high-school aged teens and they exclusively thrive best on the app TikTok. This is now what would appear to be the new adaptation of the goth/punk movement and many users lip-sync to classic bands in this genre. What’s new is that they also focus a lot on rap music and also portraying themselves sexually and are more vain than insecure. For example, one made by user @pichettetimothy, who dances and lip-syncs to “I Want,” featuring 2 Chainz.
 Moving onto looks, “Girls typically wear skirts or ripped ‘mom jeans’ and long sleeved shirts under short sleeve t-shirts…fake eyelashes, eyeliner…blush with little hearts drawn on their cheeks. E-Boys generally have messy, 90’s inspired hair and worn-out jean jackets” (Humphries, 2019). The goal is to still maintain the dark, edgy, chained, bold, and rebellious aesthetic, which holds up past ideals of the goth subculture. On the other hand, the key here is that it exists more online than it ever has before, almost strictly online and in their bedroom or at least inside of their family home. Author Paul Hodkinson’s Communicating Goth, has a great connection to the overall online aspect of the goth (punk) subculture as a very social group within the online world, but also goes over how it travels to the outside world as well. 
 Much like in the group project conducted for this course, Youth Culture and the Popular, Hodkinson did a lot of his own searching online to end up finding an abundance of sites and links to goth content (Hodkinson, 565). In his research he would also find that the internet is an integral part of the goth/punk subculture “This is because more than any other medium the World Wide Web requires users to choose in advance what to view” (Hodkinson, 565). In the case of E-Boys and E-Girls, this is where TikTok comes into play, as well as other social media. Lauren Strapagiel of BuzzFeed News categorize an E-Girls as “a new kind of cool girl who was born and lives on the platform [TikTok]’.” and the most “visible demographic” on the app (2019). 
Hodkinson goes in deeper into the online aspect of the goth/punk community and its connection to the internet by explaining just how exclusive and specific it can get.  Those outside the community don’t really come across goth sites because, “keyword searches were an efficient way of guiding existing goth participants” (Hodkinson, 565). On the other hand, Hodkinson didn’t know that we would eventually have TikTok, where almost everyone who has it on their phone can access content from all kinds of subcultures. Hodkinson’s work still has its connection to the goth movement, but maybe it hasn’t aged as well because in our time is that if youth subcultures like E-Girls are some of the new goth kids, they certainly do not exist offline (Jennings, 2019). 
Additionally, while Hodkinson also stresses the elitist attitude of those who had been in the community, seeing that “all these modes of access, of course, required a clear prior involvement in the goth scene” (Hodkinson, 566). While this group project has led to TikTok videos of people trying to essentially pretend to be an E-Girl/Boy, those who are actually in the community are very serious about their online presence. In fact, most who are within it, across any article found, do not necessarily self-identify as an E-Girl/Boy. Hodkinson also brings up the fact that goth involvement in the community also involved a lot of creating their own content, discussion groups, links and even emailing lists (Hodkinson, 567). This still holds up to today, moving into this new era of goth/punk where they can create whatever they want online, whether it is on platforms like TikTok or on Instagram.
Moving forward with creating, Hodkinson also stresses the importance of participation within the goth scene, particularly in relation to subcultural capital. “Resources and forums on the internet functioned to facilitate the subculture as a whole through providing specialist knowledge, constructing values, offering practical information and generating friendships” (Hodkinson, 569-570). It’s not exactly certain how many friendships really come out of the E-Girl/Boy subculture, but through their personal posts on TikTok and Instagram, they share their personal knowledge of all kinds of trends with their followers and it seems possible that this community would have their own set of values to share. For example, how they all appear to romanticize mental illness in their videos as something to be trendy (Humphries, 2019). Additionally, Hodkinson also talks about the sort of content goths talked a lot about and shared some of the same views on, lime music and fashion (Hodkinson, 570). E-Girls and E-Boys connect to this especially as their looks and songs they choose on TikTok hold a lot of importance in their online identity. 
Getting more into looks, Hebdige makes a great point, “style in particular provokes a double response: it is alternately celebrated…and ridiculed or reviled” (Hebdige, 93). The E-Girl and E-Boy subculture is still very new, many of the articles that have come out about them cannot find a solid answer as to where this came from or how it really started. However, the community seems to be growing and thriving just fine on the internet. On the other hand, from hearing a first-hand account from another group member, not everyone has such a positive response to this subculture. She had mentioned talking to the child she babysits who told her that E-Girl/Boy style is being included in their spirit week at school to sort of joke about that community’s style and taste. Not much is really heard from the adult perspective in any articles found in the research for this project in this course, but overall it would seem that this doesn’t really make a difference in the community’s behavior or values. 
Another point Hebdige makes is, “in most cases, it is the subculture’s stylistic innovations which first attract the media’s attention” (Hebdige, 93). A lot of stylistic choices seem to be made within E-Girl and E-Boy subculture, drive the “cringey” or comedic responses from their peers in reference to their behavior, tastes, and stylistic choices online. Meanwhile, even though E-Girls and E-Boys appear to be somewhat unique and different “they display their own codes (e.g. the punk’s ripped T-shirt) or at least demonstrate that codes are there to be used and abused” (Hebdige, 101). They don’t want to be like the other teens and young adults they go to school with or follow on social media. Referencing the typical style of an E-Girl and E-Boy earlier in this paper, their unnatural hair colors, bold/dark makeup, layering shirts, chains, padlock necklaces, etc. seem to fall under the concept of bricolage. 
Bricolage shows how, “basic elements can be used in a variety of improvised combinations to generate new meanings with them” (Hebdige, 103). A combination of old goth/punk styles (i.e. clothes), with new ones (i.e. padlock necklace) and adding their taste in music (rap/hip hop), is what E-Girls and Boys have used to create new meanings of goth/punk in their subculture. Assuming they are the new era of goth/punk, they’re no longer saying that they’re just depressed, anxious and rebellious members of youth culture. These teens and young adults are into the goth/punk aesthetic and turning it into eclectic fashion, and while they enjoy the mentally ill idea, they also like to project their confidence through the music they lip-sync to on TikTok. In conclusion, there’s still a lot of confusion with this new wave of youth subculture, but it still has connections to the work of writers like Hebdige and Hodkinson, while putting a fresh spin on their work.

E-Girl / E-Boy.” Know Your Meme, 19 Nov. 2019,
Hebdige, Dick “Subculture: The Unnatural Break” and “Style as Intentional Communication,”              pp. 90-112 (on Canvas)
Hodkinson, Paul “Paul Hodkinson – “Communicating Goth,” pp. 564-574 (on Canvas)
Humphries, Grace. “The Truth Behind The ‘E-Girl’ and ‘E-Boy’ Trend.” InFlight, 5 Apr. 2019,
Jennings, Rebecca. “E-Girls and e-Boys, the Irony-Laced Subculture That Doesn’t Exist in Real Life.” Vox, Vox, 1 Aug. 2019,                                                            
Timothy. @pichettetimothy


Comparison of Subculture and Countercultures

In any society there are not only cultures, but also a variety of subculture and countercultures that develop within society. Subcultures and countercultures are formed by generalizations, occupation, class, lifestyle, likes, dislikes, etc. [1]
Basically subculture is a group of people that differentiate from the larger culture that they belong to. In earlier 1950s, there has been a distinction between an accepted majority style and a ‘subculture’ as an active minority style. Dick Hebdige argued that a subculture is subversion to normality. Subcultures tend to be perceived as negative and have a nature of criticism. Subcultures bring together individuals who feel neglected and allow them to develop a sense of identity. [2]

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Counterculture is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group. Counterculture can also be described as a group whose behavior deviates from the societal norm. Although distinct countercultural undercurrents have existed in many societies, here the term refers to a more significant, visible phenomenon that reaches critical mass and persists for a period of time. It is important to distinguish between “counterculture,” and “subculture”. [3]
A subculture is a group of individuals that do share some qualities that the majority of society share, but the group has its own values, beliefs, norms, behavior, etc. Subcultures tend to be created when society endures problems or enjoys common privileges. Most individuals within a subculture have common interests and beliefs. 
Types of subculture 
Following are the major types of subculture.
Organizational Culture
A type of subculture that allows members to have solidarity, community, and social relationships that influence individual behavior. It is the way an organization deals with the environment. 
It is a type of subculture that completely disregards society’s norms and values and creates new ones.  They tend to develop when people will not conform to the mainstream.  They have their own beliefs, problems with cultural integration, and have their own material culture. [1]
Racial or nationality subcultures
These subcultures tend to vary in their values, ambition and beliefs which get reflected in their consumption priorities, spend save patterns, purchase behavior, use of credit, social traditions and customs etc.Nowadays multiracial societies like America comprised of citizens who come from different nationalities or belong to different races.
Religious subcultures:
Most societies of the world today consist of people subscribing to different religions, which may differ in their beliefs, values and customs. The religious subgroups may follow different custom, have important rites of passage (like birth, marriage and death) performed in different ways and have different festivals. [4]
Counter culture vs. Sub culture

“Counterculture can be defined as a group whose behavior deviates from the societal norm. It is different to the mainstream culture in their politics, norms, social beliefs, and way of dress and social structures”. (or)
“A counter culture is one that reacts against the prevailing culture in place”.

Example: Throughout the last century examples of counterculture might be the suffragettes, the green movement, polygamists and feminists, punk movement and the infamous hippie counterculture movement of the 1960s, are formed and exist to oppose the dominant culture.
All of these counter cultures have specific beliefs and values that cause social change.
Counter cultures are large movements that cause social change.
Counter cultures are against mainstream culture.[5]
Members of a counterculture come together around their desire to reject movements within the larger, dominant culture.
While members have this opposition in common, they may not share religious or political affiliations, similar socioeconomic situations, or values.
Countercultures can be both negative and positive.
They can also become larger when more people are involved and assimilate into the mainstream just as subcultures in general have this potential.[6]
Biker Gangs, drug users, career criminals, prisoners, and terrorists have in common that they all have negative perceptions from society and are countercultures. [7]

“A sub culture can have its own beliefs, norms and values, but they are generally able to exist within mainstream culture”.

Their beliefs or manner of being may be different enough to make them stand out, but they are not at odds with society.
Subculture is a culture shared and actively participated in by a minority of people within a broader culture.
Examples: sub cultures might be Goths, emos, surfies, homies etc. Jews and Tea Party members are both examples of subcultures in the U.S. While the Jewish subculture is based around shared religious values, the Tea Party movement was primarily founded around dissatisfaction with the political status.
Sub cultures tend to also share common interests and experience.
Sub cultures can exist within mainstream culture.[5]
Sub cultures are united by common aesthetics, interests and experience.
Subcultures are distinctive segments of the larger culture of a region or society that are marked by shared interests in music or cultural phenomena, membership in a specific ethnic or religious group, or shared socioeconomic status.
While some subcultures exist in contradistinction to the society’s dominant culture, others exist harmoniously within it.
Subcultures incorporate large parts of the broader cultures of which they are part, but in specifics they may differ radically.
Subcultures bring together like-minded individuals who feel neglected by societal standards and allow them to develop a sense of identity.
Subcultures can be distinctive because of the age, ethnicity, class, location, and/or gender of the members. [6]
The qualities that determine a subculture as distinct may be linguistic, aesthetic, religious, political, sexual, geographical or a combination of factors.
They certainly play an important role in any individual life and help to explain how each person develops a frame of reference. [7]
Everybody has their own perceptions on society, values, and life in general. Values, attitudes, gestures, and sanctions tend to stem from the dominant culture in one’s life.
Throughout the dominant culture that a person spends his or her time in learning and changing through different experiences many subcultures have developed.
Subcultures allow people, who share similar interests to assimilate, socialize, gives them a sense of belonging and fellowship among peers. [8]
Countercultures and subcultures both identify themselves in juxtaposition to the dominant culture of a society.
Members usually dress and behave in different ways than average citizens of a society and are usually identifiable by their different appearances.
Culture is made up of an amalgamation of subcultures. So, a single subculture is a small segment of the larger culture, which is usually defined by shared socioeconomic status or a common cultural interest.
A counterculture, on the other hand, is defined by their opposition to the dominant culture. A member of a counterculture may oppose the prevailing cultures values. Or, it could just oppose certain segments of the culture, or certain subcultures.
A subculture is differs slightly from the dominant culture in a society, while a counterculture opposes the culture or subculture itself.[6]
Literature review
Dick Hebdige argued that a subculture is subversion to normality. Subcultures tend to be perceived as negative and have a nature of criticism. [9]
According to Hebdige, subcultures are actually an alternative and reconfiguration of the dominant cultures. As his all very brief references to black and West Indian cultures suggest that he considers these cultures to be transplanted dominant cultures within British society. This misrepresentation raises the question of whether ethnic groups or minorities fit into Hebdige’s notion of what constitutes either a parent culture or subculture. [10]
According to Wolfgang & Ferracuti, subculture is “a normative system of some group or groups smaller than the whole society” .This “implies that there are value judgments or a social value system which is apart from and a part of a central value system”. But a subculture is only partly different from the larger culture, and cannot be totally different from the culture of which it is a part; otherwise it is what Wolfgang called contra culture. This implies that the subculture has some major values in common with the dominant parent culture.
The transmission of sub cultural values involves a learning process that establishes a dynamic lasting linkage between the values and the individuals .But also important to Wolfgang’s subculture of violence theory is the notion that people may be born into a subculture.
They argue that the black subculture actually values violence and that it is “an integral component of the subculture which experiences high rates of homicide”. Just as the dominant society punishes those who deviate from its norms, deviance by the comparatively non-violent individual from the norms of the violent subculture is likewise punished, either by being ostracized, or treated with disdain or indifference. Also, the more a person is integrated into this subculture, “the more intensely he embraces its prescriptions of behavior, its conduct norms, and integrates them into his personality”.
The subculture of violence theory might be even more relevant today than it was when it was first published, especially with regard to juvenile crime. It seems to be a common fear that adolescents today are more violent and lacking in empathy than those of only a generation or two ago.
Parker (1989) criticisms of the black subculture of violence model are many:
First, the use of global indicators describing an entire class of people, southerners or blacks, assumes that these communities are homogeneous in values and lifestyle, an assumption that is clearly false for any group as large as these groups. Second, particularly in the case of blacks, it entails an implicit pejorative indictment of urban minority residents and communities, which is unfair and racist in nature. Finally this approach ignores the role of institutionalized racism itself in producing a link between violence and racial composition.
Wolfgang’s subculture of violence theory has had its share of critics. Erlanger (1974), Parker (1989), Shihadeh and Steffensmeier (1994), are just a few of the investigators who have failed to find the theory useful in explaining sub cultural violence. Other authors have found that the sub-culture of violence theory is a useful model, particularly when it is used along with other theories Benedict and Baron. Kennedy and Baron call for such an integrative approach, and assert that often, different theories may complement one another. Finally, still other researchers continue to rely upon the model. 11]
Scholars differ in the characteristics and specificity they attribute to “counterculture”. Counterculture might oppose mass culture, or middle-class culture and values. Counterculture is sometimes conceptualized in terms of generational conflict and rejection of older or adult values.
It typically involves criticism or rejection of currently powerful institutions, with accompanying hope for a better life or a new society.
Countercultures tend to peak, and then go into decline, leaving a lasting impact on mainstream cultural values. Their life cycles include phases of rejection, growth, partial acceptance and absorption into the mainstream.
According to Sheila Whiteley, “recent developments in sociological theory complicate and problematize theories developed in the 1960s, with digital technology, for example, providing an impetus for new understandings of counterculture”. Andy Bennett writes that “despite the theoretical arguments that can be raised against the sociological value of counterculture as a meaningful term for categorizing social action, like subculture, the term lives on as a concept in social and cultural theory to become part of a received, mediated memory”.[12]
The term counter-culture is not entirely an adequate way of describing all of the changes that took place for several reasons: some changes were a progression of events throughout the century, other changes were due to scientific discoveries which have always produced new ideas and ways of looking at the world, and many changes can be better described as movements or ideologies.[14]
Subcultures allow people, who share similar interests to assimilate, socialize, gives them a sense of belonging and fellowship among peers. 
Sub cultural studies often involve participant-observation, and may variously emphasize sociological, anthropological, or semiotic analysis in order to address the organization and production of relational, material, and symbolic structures and systems. [15]
Healthy sub-cultures share leaderships’ conceptualizations of how tasks should be accomplished; how employees can advance and take on greater responsibility; how employees interact with each other; the ways in which change is accepted and accomplished; and how new knowledge is acquired and perpetuated.
Distinct, healthy sub-cultures are organizationally aligned in their understanding of how they must perform to produce successful and acceptable results and outcomes.
Leaders actively seeking to influence their organization’s culture must consider sub-cultures.
The major point here is to make sure that you are integrating and linking your sub-cultures into the broader, intended cultural objectives.
Accept and foster productive sub-cultures while consistently communicating how employees must perform in order for the organization to be successful.[13]

Rhetorical Analysis and Italian Subculture

Rhetorical Analysis and Italian Subculture

There is only one thing that truly unites every person on this planet. There is only one thing that allows expression and connection. There is only one thing that breathes through each of us, and truly defines who we are: language. Language allows us to communicate with one another, and it also helps us identify with our culture and our roots. In Italy, language plays an incredibly important role as it has turned into something that unified a once divided nation. Stefano Jossa, an Italian author, describes the importance of language in Italy in his book titled La Più Bella del Mondo: Perché Amare la Lingua Italiana, which translates to “the most beautiful in the world: why we love the Italian language.” In his book, Jossa uses the four rhetorical appeals – ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos – to convince his readers that Italian truly is a beautiful language and is an important part of Italian Culture.

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 Ethos is defined as being an appeal to ethics. Ethos establishes credibility of the author or speaker in a rhetorical situation and proves to the audience that the author/speaker is worth listening to, as they know what they are talking about. While most authors will simply put a short blurb at the beginning of their books that provide background information on themselves to establish this credibility, Stefano Jossa takes a different approach. At the very beginning of his book, he has an introduction in which he discusses language and what it really means, and he provides examples of why language is something that defines us. He opens up with a rather beautiful quote that reads, “Language development is part of personality development because words are the natural means of expressing thought and establishing understanding and among men” (Jossa, 2018, p. 1). From there, Jossa describes several situations in which people experienced foreign accent syndrome. In these rare cases, people who experience accidents or trauma had suddenly began speaking with an accent they had no prior knowledge of and can no longer get rid of. When these people lost their accents, they felt deeply disturbed and separated from their own culture. Jossa uses these experiences, which he showed that he researched heavily, to preface his argument. In order to let his readers know that they should listen to his argument and believe what he says, he establishes that he knows what language means to people, and how deeply it affects them and their identity if it is somehow lost.

Unlike ethos, pathos, the appeal to emotion, is laced throughout Jossa’s argument. In order to make his readers relate to him, and feel what he feels, he often expresses his love for language. He shares what it is to love something, and why language itself is no exception. He also says that because Italian is his native language he loves it the most, and that all of us should love our own language the most as well. In one particularly defining line, Jossa (2018) writes, “For each of us, then, the most beautiful language in the world will be yours. Beauty is soft and tastes are not discussed. But actually the language is…a partner to whom we entrust our secrets and together with whom we face life” (p. 7). Jossa seems to compare language to a loved one or a significant other, which as a result makes his readers understand the feelings he has for language, and the feelings they should have towards language. In his emotional appeal, his readers are able to sympathize and feel the same feelings he experiences toward language, which are those of great love. His feelings also make his argument more relatable. Because we know what it is to love something, we know that his love for language would mean he wants to do it justice in his writing. He does not want to show his love for Italian just to sell books, but instead wishes to share something beautiful and real with his readers. He wishes to convince us that a language is more than what we previously thought it to be.

Logos, the appeal to logic, essentially is the use of facts and evidence to make an argument more convincing. Jossa uses factual evidence to enhance his argument multiple times throughout his work. At the beginning, as mentioned previously, he uses actual stories of people with foreign accent syndrome. He even provides a direct quote from an interview at one point of someone expressing their feelings of loss of identity after dealing with this syndrome. Later on in his writing, Jossa describes how the Italian language came to be. He explains, “It is not only because it was built almost at the table over time by three great men…who at different times took charge of thinking of a national language for Italians” (Jossa, 2018, p. 23). The Italian language is actually something that was created fairly recently. Before Italy was unified, it was divided into separate small regions, each with its own culture and dialect. Because of this, Italians learned to use hand gestures and signals in order to communicate with each other. When Italy was unified, however, a language was created and caught on quickly. While in the various regions there are still separate accents and slang used, the new method of communication proved to be successful and loved all around. Any Italian would express their love for their language, and Jossa is certainly no exception. In using this fact, and mentioning a lesser known aspect of Italian history, Jossa provides sound reasoning to his readers. His argument, which is that Italian is a beautiful language, is even more believable now that his audience knows that it was made to bring the Italian people together.

The final Aristotelean Appeal, called kairos, is seen more indirectly in Jossa’s work. While it seems like Italy has been around forever, it was actually unified fairly recently in 1871. For some perspective, the University of Arizona was established in 1885. Kairos, the appeal to timeliness, revolves around the idea of “striking the metal while it’s hot.” When kairos is most effectively used in a rhetorical argument, the argument will address something that occurred recently to make it more relevant for an audience. Despite the fact that it has been over 100 years since the unification of Italy and the creation of the Italian language, it is still relevant for readers today. At this point in time, with the internet allowing things to be easily accessible, Jossa will be able to make an argument that everyone could potentially listen to. Jossa has a much wider audience that he could reach, and he can use it to his advantage. Jossa is also reaching an audience at a time in which acceptance and cultural understanding is very important. More and more people are trying to understand various cultures so that they do not accept incorrect stereotypes or negative misconceptions about people from different backgrounds. Jossa will be able to reach this audience, and teach them about his language, which is something that they might know nothing about, but something they are willing to learn. Jossa truly does appeal to timeliness, as quotes such as, “Language is therefore a refuge, a home of the heart, where it finds all that we do not find in the world” (Jossa, 2018, p. 14), will reach the ever-changing and more accepting people of the present.

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Stefano Jossa’s book, La Più Bella del Mondo: Perché Amare la Lingua Italiana, contains all of the elements that allow for an effective rhetorical argument. He appeals to ethos both in his own speaking of Italian, and in his research to preface his main points. He appeals to pathos in his poetic, descriptive analyses of what language is to him, and how it should make all of us feel. He appeals to logos in his use of facts about the language itself, and in his evidence of how loss of language can negatively affect lives. He appeals to kairos in reaching an audience that is willing to learn and willing to understand. Jossa, by the end of his work, truly has his readers convinced that Italian is, truly, a beautiful language, and an important aspect of Italy’s culture.  


Jossa, Stefano. (2018). La più bella del mondo: Perché amare la lingua italiana. Italy: EINAUDI.