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Apple: from subculture to cultural dominance

Published on January 31, 2018 Originally recorded 2013   4 min
0:04
The definition of subculture refers to a distinct way of life and a sensibility. And you also see this subculture situated within a larger group. Subculture consists of shared cultural symbols and language, traditions and ritual practices. So we can think of meals in the holidays, the Jewish Seder for example. We can also talk about material forms of culture, things like music, dress, houses, decor. And also important to note are the beliefs, values, and priorities of this subgroup. So in summary then, the definition of subculture refers to a collective human endeavor that is expressed among members of a group in relation to others. It also captures a cumulative changes over time and is very adaptive to geography, different economic systems, and also, to technology.
1:03
So, let's take an example of the Apple consuming community. Now, when Apple get started in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it's a very counter-cultural kind of a phenomenon. It's fairly isolated, fairly small. Those who are consuming the early Apple products who are buying and using them almost have a kind of a religious fervor. The early campaign through the 1980s of thinking different where the company is purposely trying to build a characterization of not being IBM. Through the 1990s, this continues in a type of an artistic, high-tech, sensibility, but also characterized by an ease of access. So, you don't have to have a Computer Science degree to use Apple computer. The types of people who use it are fairly artistic, fairly high-tech, fairly innovative. And that sensibility then is also tied to the small production volume at that time, where it's a crafted product. It's not for everything. Definitely not in the early years of Big Brother IBM, but in the later years, it's not Microsoft. So very distinct. And as that proceeds through the late 1990s into 2000, where the products themselves increasingly having a sort of values attached among consumers that form this community, that really appreciates sustainability, that has that ethical sense that Maffesoli talks about, that political sense as well. This is proving or may prove to be a challenge for Apple into the future for this consumer subculture. Certainly, some of the challenges of production in China, the use of toxic chemicals, the high prices of the products, and also an older clientele. So, certainly not the youth that really made the brand or helped bring the brand into its strength earlier. And at the same time, some of the strengths of the brand are these highly visible Apple stores in city centers where there are numbers of very helpful, very young, enthusiastic, beautiful service specialists who are there to help guide consumers through the buying process, to welcome them into the community and into its values. So the question now, too, as we go back to the beginnings of this presentation and see this shift then of subcultures forming over time among traditional lines of ethnicity, nationality, and then shifting into consumption over time. And that challenge of continued identity of a strong sense of one's self, of community, as being member of a group, and of distinction and from others. And so, one of the challenges for Apple also as it proceeds into the future is, has it become too mainstream?
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Apple: from subculture to cultural dominance

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