Subculture dynamics

Coalitions, scenes, fandoms, subcultures, normies, hipsters, sects, and tribes at scale

Red-queen signalling, genres + group dynamics intersect in the dynamics of scenes and subcultures. Probably religions and languages/dialects have structural similarities.

David Chapman’s Geeks, MOPs and Sociopaths model, explains subcultural dynamics as a business model, looking at how fun things become mass market things.

Emma Sarappo, How Tumblr Taught Social Justice to a Generation of Teenagers.

Gwern, The Melancholy of Subculture Society has a festival of this kind of thing in the footnotes.

Warrens, Plazas and the Edge of Legibility addresses Social Software Sundays #2 – The Evaporative Cooling Effect Β« Bumblebee Labs Blog

Meme dynamics

see memetics.

Dialects and slangs


Norms within


Status within

Aesthetics of

Related: timeless works of art.

Silent Majority Music:

Music styles that, like hip-hop, are connected to some kind of grass roots, are fluid, with constant incremental changes building into epochal ones. When they move from their base audience, it’s often because a particular conjuncture of sounds resonates with a new crowd. But here is where a kind of misrecognition occurs: for the neophytes, the style is this one way, frozen in time. The give and take between music makers and their core followings, the push and pull, ebb and flow that built disco, hip-hop, house, reggaeton, and so on, is interrupted by listeners who in their enthusiasm don’t always understand the history or sociology of their genres. They don’t have to: when music becomes a commodity, it can travel worldwide, as all commodities do, severed from any knowledge of the conditions of its production. Genres cease to be grassroots social worlds, and instead become something more like brands: mere sonic surfaces rather than deep historical processes.

Maximillian Schich for complex network theory with an art history twist.

Mark Bernstein’s Neovictorian Computing series takes the tension between univerality and specificity to the odd world of software:

by β€œNeoVictorian” I mean systems that are:

  • Built for people
  • Built by people
  • Crafted in workshops
  • Irregular
  • Inspired

From the class Byrne Hobart essay, Sin, Secret, Series A. Every startup needs to know something:

A social media site might turn out to be the reductio ad absurdum of the brand-as-lie/lie-as-Schelling-Point phenomenon, since the entire point of user interaction on the site is to make the lie true. If a site markets itself as the place where a certain kind of cool person hangs out, and says it boldly enough to the right audience, it becomes exactly that.

A corollary to this is that for you, every social media site peaks in utility right after you join. When I was barely cool enough to qualify for Quora, Quora was pretty cool to me β€” but to anyone who’d been on the site for six months, Quora was a formerly cool site now populated by lamers.

Or Steven Wittens, Geeks, MOPs and Lightsabers

Is Beat Saber a game that feels great to play, or is it a game that looks amazing to play? That is, is it for playing, or for watching? The latest update is notable for its rather obnoxious restyling of the entire UI, which replaces the relatively sober title screen with illustrations of people partying. Call me a grouch, but this is normie stuff, for one very simple reason: the people who only show up to the party when it’s already banging… those are not the people who actually make great parties happen. This is trying to ensure people have fun by asking them, with a megaphone to their ear, "Are you having FUN yet???"

He is referencing Geeks, MOPs, and sociopaths in subculture evolution.


Baldassarri, Delia, and Guy Grossman. 2013. β€œThe Effect of Group Attachment and Social Position on Prosocial Behavior. Evidence from Lab-in-the-Field Experiments.” Edited by Angel SΓ‘nchez. PLoS ONE 8 (3): e58750.
Baron, Robert S. 2005. β€œSo Right It’s Wrong: Groupthink and the Ubiquitous Nature of Polarized Group Decision Making.” In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 37:219–53. Academic Press.
Baronchelli, Andrea, Tao Gong, Andrea Puglisi, and Vittorio Loreto. 2010. β€œModeling the emergence of universality in color naming patterns.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107 (6): 2403–7.
Bergh, Jeroen C J M van den, and John M Gowdy. 2009. β€œA Group Selection Perspective on Economic Behavior, Institutions and Organizations.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 72 (1): 1–20.
Bergstrom, Theodore C. 2002. β€œEvolution of Social Behavior: Individual and Group Selection.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 16: 67–88.
Bowles, Samuel. 2001. β€œIndividual Interactions, Group Conflicts, and the Evolution of Preferences.” Social Dynamics 155: 190.
Bowles, Samuel, Jung-Kyoo Choi, and Astrid Hopfensitz. 2003. β€œThe Co-Evolution of Individual Behaviors and Social Institutions.” Journal of Theoretical Biology 223 (2): 135–47.
Boyd, Robert, and Peter J. Richerson. 1992. β€œPunishment Allows the Evolution of Cooperation (or Anything Else) in Sizable Groups.” Ethology and Sociobiology 13 (3): 171–95.
Branwen, Gwern. 2009. β€œThe Melancholy of Subculture Society,” January.
Cancho, Ramon Ferrer i, and Ricard V. SolΓ©. 2003. β€œLeast Effort and the Origins of Scaling in Human Language.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100 (3): 788–91.
Cattani, Gino, and Simone Ferriani. 2008. β€œA Core/Periphery Perspective on Individual Creative Performance: Social Networks and Cinematic Achievements in the Hollywood Film Industry.” Organization Science 19 (6): 824–44.
Cheng, Joey T., Jessica L. Tracy, and Joseph Henrich. 2010. β€œPride, Personality, and the Evolutionary Foundations of Human Social Status.” Evolution and Human Behavior 31 (5): 334–47.
Couzin, Iain D., Christos C. Ioannou, GΓΌven Demirel, Thilo Gross, Colin J. Torney, Andrew Hartnett, Larissa Conradt, Simon A. Levin, and Naomi E. Leonard. 2011. β€œUninformed Individuals Promote Democratic Consensus in Animal Groups.” Science 334 (6062): 1578–80.
Dunbar, Robin I M. 1993. β€œCoevolution of Neocortex Size, Group Size and Language in Humans.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16 (4): 681–94.
Ehrlich, Paul R, and Simon A Levin. 2005. β€œThe Evolution of Norms.” PloS Biology 3: –194.
Fu, Feng, and Long Wang. 2008. β€œCoevolutionary Dynamics of Opinions and Networks: From Diversity to Uniformity.” Physical Review E 78 (1): 016104.
Greenhill, Simon J., Chieh-Hsi Wu, Xia Hua, Michael Dunn, Stephen C. Levinson, and Russell D. Gray. 2017. β€œEvolutionary Dynamics of Language Systems.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114 (42): E8822–29.
Henrich, Joseph, and Robert Boyd. 1998. β€œThe Evolution of Conformist Transmission and the Emergence of Between-Group Differences.” Evolution and Human Behavior 19 (4): 215–41.
Horst, Ulrich, Alan Kirman, and Miriam Teschl. 2007. β€œChanging Identity: The Emergence of Social Groups.” Economics Working Paper 0078. Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
Klug, Michael, and James P. Bagrow. 2016. β€œUnderstanding the Group Dynamics and Success of Teams.” Royal Society Open Science 3 (4).
Lena, Jennifer C. 2012. Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.
Loreto, Vittorio, Animesh Mukherjee, and Francesca Tria. 2012. β€œOn the Origin of the Hierarchy of Color Names.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109 (18): 6819–24.
Maner, Jon K. 2017. β€œDominance and Prestige: A Tale of Two Hierarchies.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 26 (6): 526–31.
MΓ€s, Michael, Andreas Flache, KΓ‘roly TakΓ‘cs, and Karen A. Jehn. 2013. β€œIn the Short Term We Divide, in the Long Term We Unite: Demographic Crisscrossing and the Effects of Faultlines on Subgroup Polarization.” Organization Science 24 (3): 716–36.
Nowak, Martin A. 2006. β€œFive Rules for the Evolution of Cooperation.” Science 314 (5805): 1560–63.
Olson, Mancur. 2009. The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups. Vol. 124. Harvard University Press.
Pavlogiannis, Andreas, Josef Tkadlec, Krishnendu Chatterjee, and Martin A. Nowak. 2018. β€œConstruction of Arbitrarily Strong Amplifiers of Natural Selection Using Evolutionary Graph Theory.” Communications Biology 1 (1): 1–8.
Petersson, Karl-Magnus, Vasiliki Folia, and Peter Hagoort. 2012. β€œWhat Artificial Grammar Learning Reveals about the Neurobiology of Syntax.” Brain and Language, The Neurobiology of Syntax, 120 (2): 83–95.
Post, Daniel J. van der, Mathias Franz, and Kevin N. Laland. 2016. β€œSkill Learning and the Evolution of Social Learning Mechanisms.” BMC Evolutionary Biology 16 (1): 166.
Saavedra, Serguei, Janet Efstathiou, and Felix Reed-Tsochas. 2007. β€œIdentifying the Underlying Structure and Dynamic Interactions in a Voting Network.” Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and Its Applications 377 (2): 672–88.
Smith, Kenny, and Simon Kirby. 2008. β€œCultural Evolution: Implications for Understanding the Human Language Faculty and Its Evolution.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 363: 3591–3603.
Trouche, Emmanuel, Emmanuel Sander, and Hugo Mercier. 2014. β€œArguments, More Than Confidence, Explain the Good Performance of Reasoning Groups.” SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 2431710. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network.

No comments yet. Why not leave one?

GitHub-flavored Markdown & a sane subset of HTML is supported.