March 2008

Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture

HarperCollins Publishers

  • 10 East 53rd Street
  • New York , NY

(212) 207-7000

For every trend, there is an equal and opposite cultural backlash. Eventually then that backlash becomes trendy.   abc Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture xyz by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter explores this pattern in 21st century American culture.

Citing examples culled straight from mainstream culture, like the movie “American Beauty” and the magazine Adbusters, the book demonstrates how and why the reaction against the popular became so hip in and of itself.  The appeal of being “different” leads Americans to act against trendy movements, be they art, music, or fashion.  However, the desire to buy into these “new,” “underground” or “different” ideas makes them just as marketable–if not more so–than those of the mainstream.

Because of this, the authors determine, counterculture isn't really “counter” at all, but rather just another target market.  Heath and Potter’s main point is that counterculture loses its power as a social movement due to its status as a market sector.  However, despite the authors' intentions, a message of marketability shines through.  The subtext of the book reveals the market potential of the counterculture phenomenon.  With straight-forward text and familiar examples, Nation of Rebels is an easily-accessible read for anyone interested in psychographics, mainstream marketing, and patterns of social rebellion.

Reviewer: Rachel Clarke, FIDM Library Staff Member