What Comes After the Hipster? We Ask the Experts

William Deresiewicz, contributing writer for The Nation and contributing editor for The New Republic and The American Scholar:

I’m not sure that anything is going to emerge after the hipster, but not because we won’t have any widespread, cohesive youth cultures anymore. I think it’s possible that the hipster is just going to stay around indefinitely. As I said in my article “Generation Sell,” the hipster has been around as the dominant youth culture for way longer than anything that’s come before, and it occupies a place relative to mainstream culture that’s completely different. It’s not counter-cultural; it fits perfectly within the values of a large part of the mainstream, the so-called Bobos or bourgeois bohemians, which is what most members of the liberal upper-middle-class are. Hipsters are usually seen as consumers — “self-curators” who painstakingly select the music, movies, clothing and so on through which they construct their identities. More useful is to understand them as producers and distributors. Hipsters create Bobo culture. They make or sell or serve, or simply pioneer, what Bobos buy. (This is hardly surprising, given that the bohemianization of the bourgeoisie was largely about the pretense of staying young in the first place.) So it seems that hipsters have achieved a stable position within our socio-cultural configuration.

Of course, I could be wrong. The best bet for the next thing would be for something to emerge from the Occupy movement: less concerned about music and clothing, more concerned about politics; less concerned about differentiating yourself from the people around you, more concerned about working with them; less concerned about status, more concerned about social change; less ironic, more earnest; less polished, more grungy. The one thing I don’t think will happen is that youth culture will fragment into cultural tribes. Youth culture is all about emulation, being hip however hip happens to be defined at the moment, and far from fragmenting the culture, technology provides a means to unify it, by disseminating it, more efficiently than ever.

On the other hand, what the hell do I know?