A Study of Gothic Subculture

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Updated 3-12-2009
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Acceptance in the Social Scene

The social scene generally uses this criteria to evaluate whether someone is a Goth. The most important aspects of "true gothness" are 2, 3 and 4 below.

  1. Frequenting Goth haunts -- Regularly visiting places Goths frequent is the easiest and most superficial way to become accepted. This includes gothic clubs, coffee shops, thrift stores, fetish stores, independent music stores, etc. If there are no specific gothic nights at a club, Goths may be found at fetish, 80's, or industrial theme nights. Frequenting gothic places may give someone exposure to the culture, but not necessarily acceptance.

  2. Dressing gothic -- Goths initially identify other Goths by appearance. See common culture under fashion. The appearance indicates the potential for common interests. However, it often takes further investigation to determine whether or not the person is gothic. The way a person dresses alone does not automatically make him or her a Goth. For some people, the image of being gothic is shed as easily as taking off those gothic clothes.

  3. Possessing the gothic mentality/personality -- This indicates whether a person is gothic internally as opposed to merely looking gothic externally. For people with the gothic personality, their involvement is not merely a rebellious phase, but part of their inner self. Those likely to become interested in Goth and remain involved in it will usually possess most of the following characteristics and traits beforehand: individualistic, reflective, artistic, creative, introspective, emotionally focused and driven, sensitive, non-violent, moody. They are likely to have a distaste for authority, possess above average intelligence, and be social misfits. Most are interested in the beautiful, the mysterious and the supernatural.

  4. Listening to gothic (and related) music -- This includes the depth of music knowledge and level of dedication. See Relevant Music Classifications. It also includes familiarity with other media such as books and movies; however, these count to a lesser extend and do not qualify alone. The music plays different roles to different people. Some people enjoy Gothic only for its social or aesthetic aspects and never seek to listen to more than the most popular and well-known of Goth bands. True dedication to gothic culture is often displayed in one's span of music knowledge. Musical preference is advertised through band t-shirts, stickers, or mouthing the words to songs at a club.

  5. Knowing key gothic people -- Acceptance by the well-known members of the social group is often automatic grounds for being considered Goth no matter the length of time in the scene, how extreme the person looks, or musical preference.