Skinheads - defenders of Russia? Power versus Friendship in Xenophobic Youth Subcultures
Russia’s Skinheads: exploring and rethinking subcultural lives provides a through examination of the phenomenon of skinheads, explaining its nature and its significance, and assessing how far Russian skinhead subculture is at the “lumpen” end of the extreme nationalist ideological spectrum. There are large numbers of skinheads in Russia, responsible for a significant number of xenophobic attacks, including 97 deaths in 2008 alone, making this book relevant to Russian specialists as well as to sociologists of youth subculture. It provides a practical example of how to investigate youth subculture in depth over an extended period – in this case through empirical research following a specific group over six years – and goes on to argue that Russian skinhead subculture is not a direct import from the West, and that youth cultural practices should not be reduced to expressions of consumer choice. It presents an understanding of the Russian skinheads as a product of individuals` whole, and evolving, lives, and thereby compels sociologists to rethink how they conceive the nature of subcultures.
The collapse of communism has opened up Russia and East-Central Europe to outside influences and enabled new lifestyle choices and forms of religious expression. Based on extensive ethnographic research, this collection uses a variety of theoretical perspectives and methodologies to examine some of the many subcultures and new religious movements that have emerged as part of this process, from members of utopian eco-communities, native-language hip-hoppers and nationalistic skinheads to various forms of Indian-inspired spirituality, neo-paganism and theosophy. Whether they reflect a growing sense of national or ethnic identity, the influence of globalization or a combination of the two, such groups highlight the challenge of creating a free, open and tolerant society in both Russia and new or prospective EU member states. The book seeks to contribute to academic and policy debates in this area by increasing understanding of the groups in question. The studies in this collection present selected findings from the three-year EU-funded project 'Society and Lifestyles: Towards Enhancing Social Harmonization through Knowledge of Subcultural Communities' (2006-2008), which included partners from a wide range of post-communist countries in Eastern Europe and from the UK.
The diverse and contested nature of the contemporary skinhead scene makes it impossible to identify a single common body regime, or set of gender norms, characteristic of the skinhead (sub)culture. This chapter explores one example of how these fraternal bonds and spaces are constituted. It pays particular attention to practices of the body (individual and collective) within the group and how these practices were enacted to confirm its skinhead identity while shaping a particular regime of closeness and intimacy. It considers, firstly, the group as a particular form of fraternity based on homosocial bonds of friendship, closeness and (dis)trust. Secondly, the aesthetics and the ethics of intimacy within the group are discussed. In particular practices of displaying the – naked and bare – body of the skinhead are considered as well as tests of, and conflicts over, the meaning of the intimacies that these practices forge. Finally, the chapter explores these practices in the context of the wider and competing masculinities through which they are enacted.