Skinheads of USA and Central and Eastern Europe
Skinhead is a subculture that emerged in Britain before moving out to other areas of the world. The subculture has founded its roots in different countries across the world including the United States and other areas in Central and Eastern Europe. The movement started in the United Kingdom borrowed heavily from the culture of the British Mods as well as the West Indian commonly referred to as Jamaicans especially when it came to their fashion, music, and their lifestyles (Horvath, 2007). As the subculture grew in different areas across the world, some of these cultures were retained while other new cultures were incorporated. The different subcultures of the Skinheads have several differences in similarities in the United States and other areas around Eastern and Central Europe.
Initially, this subculture began as a movement that advocated for better-working rights for different individuals in the British society. It was more associated with the working class majority and was multiracial and never had any racist beliefs. White skinheads showed great admiration for the West Indian working class in the country (Wahl, 2013). The Jamaican immigrants were neat and sharp looking at this period rather than the afro fusion hair they are currently known for. Most of the initial skinheads were considered to be more nationalistic. However, tensions between the two groups grew and divided them into sections that are majorly associated with racial tendencies (Wahl, 2013). After the split of the two groups, this subculture became synonymous in many countries across Europe and the United States. A subculture is associated with interest that varying with the main cultures of a nation. The Skinhead subculture was not different as it showed wide differences in the cultures of the different countries.
Similarities and Differences in Skinhead in US and Eastern and Central Europe
The skinheads in both the United States and other parts of Europe stand out as gangs outlawed by society due to their numerous racist semantics and beliefs. It is classified as a hate group while in different countries it is classified as a gang. Both forms of Skinheads in the different countries are known to target minority communities in society, some of this minority groups include immigrants or refugees that enter their country. These groups are typically categorized as right-wing extremists who are commonly associated with attacking members of minority communities (“The Skinhead International: United States”, 2016). In the United States, most of the white skinheads have been linked to the white supremacist leaders. Their main aim is to attack and kill other members of minority communities that exist within their countries. The ethnic minority in these countries differ. In the United States, these group is synonymous with attacking African- Americans, Hispanics and other minority ethnic community in the country (“The Skinhead International: United States”, 2016). They normally base their argument on the superiority of their white race.
In the case of areas in Central and Eastern Europe the minority groups that are constantly attacked by this group include the Roman Gypsies (Horvath, 2007). Similarly to their counterparts in the United States, these groups have joined with right-wing extremists to advance their behaviors in society. In Central and Eastern Europe these groups are associated with ideas relating to the Nazi movement. In both countries, these gangs or movements have been banned by the still continue to practice their tendencies.
Skinheads in the United States are mostly believed to either come from families that are already in the movement or from dysfunctional families in which either of the parents is missing, or the home is wrecked by certain factors (Horvath, 2007). Since most of these people lack the attention and care, they quickly look for alternative means so that they feel that they are a member of a given community. Skinheads rarely live in their parent homes. Those who live in their homes always live intense conditions with the fear if being discovered on a certain day. Those from Eastern and Central Europe are also associated with homes that have been broken (Horvath, 2007).
Skinheads in both countries operate with the gang mentality. In a good number of cases, they are more likely to attack a group of people from the minority community when they are in groups rather than as individuals (Robert & Ewa, 2014). However, this does not imply that single attacks do not occur. A higher degree of attacks as a pack are commonly known compared to individual attacks. It is also the pack mentality that brings them together and assists them in carrying certain attacks to different populations (“The Skinhead International: United States”, 2016). The pack is considered to have specific members who have proved their loyalty to the pack. The leaders of the pack are in charge of all activities of the pack. It is more likely that a leader is chosen from members who have stayed for long periods within a pack. The skinheads, just like other gangs have structured themselves and operate in some common form of rules and regulations that determine their behavior in and out of their respective packs (Travis & Hardy, 2012). Their attacks are always coordinated in countries such as the United States.
Skinheads are generally organized and present in the area. They rarely moved from one area to another irrespective of the pressure from state organs such as law enforcement officers. In countries such as the United States, it is common for a certain neighborhood to be associated with certain members of the Skinheads (“The Skinhead International: United States”, 2016). This trait is not easily seen in countries across Central and Eastern Europe although their existence has been there for a extended period. No network exists in countries such as the United States, and each Skinhead group is solely responsible for their actions (Travis & Hardy,2012). However, since they carry out most of their activities in a similar fashion, it can be said that the different groups in the United States seem to be more co-ordinated as compared to groups in Central and Eastern Europe.
Members of the Skinheads attack any person in the society including some of their members. In any subculture tensions will always arise due to the difference in ideologies. This trend is more common in areas of Central and Eastern Europe as compared to the United States. One incident that was noted involved the leaders of the Skinheads who were being attacked by the same members of the group. Albert Szabo, the famous, notorious leader of this gang in Hungary was attacked by more than 60 skinheads who were armed with clubs, baseball bats, and other skinhead fighting weapons (Horvath, 2007). The dispute originated due to differences in ideologies. It took the intervention of the police to stop such actions.
Most skinheads are associated with a certain dressing style. Their hair is normally chopped slightly but not to have a bald look. Some chop their hair on either side leaving some bit of it in the middle. Most of them also lack a beard or mustache (Wahl, 2013). Currently, the skinhead in all parts of the world is commonly associated with the Chelsea cut that was originally founded in Britain (Horvath, 2007). Most of the skinheads are also known to wear either long sleeve or short sleeve shirts by certain brands of people. The brands have for a long period been involved in their activities though most brands have vehemently denied any involvements. Common brands worn include Ben Sherman, Warrior or Jaytex, and Fred Perry (“The Skinhead International: United States”, 2016). Traditional skinheads are commonly associated with suits made of two-tone fabrics. Most skinheads have tattooed their bodies to indicate their allegiance to the gang. Some have complete tattoos on the whole body while others have tattoos in specific body parts (Robert & Ewa, 2014). The tattoo culture is more predominant in the United States than in any other country. Most skinheads use particular colors in their areas, and therefore, it is more common to see different skinheads having different colors. The most dominant color that is used is black and white. Different types of hats are also common among skinheads. They include flat caps, woolen winter caps, and flat caps (Horvath, 2007). Most of the skinheads also carry umbrellas that contain blades commonly used to attack individuals. These umbrellas are used because they never arouse any attention from law enforcement officers. Lastly, most of them are associated with certain forms of boots that are nearly knee high. Currently, nearly all kinds of boots are used by the different parties. Today the boots that are commonly used have a certain affiliation or meaning (“The Skinhead International: United States”, 2016). They are rarely used like the olden times where they supported a certain football team. The skinhead subculture is associated with a different kind of music commonly known as soul ska, reggae, and rocksteady (Robert & Ewa, 2014). They have used this music to build their hate speech across different areas of the world. All skinheads movements are associated with this form of dressing.
The skinhead movement present in the United States is considered to be more advanced than those found in areas around central and Eastern Europe. In fact, the United States Skinheads have been known for engaging in numerous violent activities across the country as compared to the ones in Europe (Horvath, 2007). While the one in the United States is gaining form, the one in Eastern Europe is being regarded as weak. This is because thousands of people have become members of this movement or gang without understanding the true nature of being a skinhead. As a consequence, they are found wearing the attires for fun and other purposes that were never the original intent of the movement (“The Skinhead International: United States”, 2016). As such the movement is slowly losing a hand in countries around Europe. Unlike, the United States where some activities of this groups are funded by political extremists, those in Europe are facing a major backlash with political parties that were once associated with them.
Skinheads in the United States and Europe may have the same ideological backgrounds, but the different societal settings have had an impact on how they conduct their business. There are a lot of similarities shared with very slight differences being noted.
Horvath, J. (2007). Skinheads in Eastern and Central Europe. Telepolis. Retrieved 20 April 2016, from http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/1/1222/1.html
Robert, O., & Ewa, K. (2014). Belonging to the subculture of skinheads in the context of resilience. Resocjalizacja Polska, (8/2014), 361-371.
The Skinhead International: United States. (2016). Nizkor.org. Retrieved 20 April 2016, from http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/orgs/american/adl/skinhead-international/skins-united states.html
Travis, T. A., & Hardy, P. (2012). Skinheads: a guide to an American subculture. ABC-CLIO.
Wahl, K. (Ed.). (2013). Skinheads, Neonazis, Mitläufer: Täterstudien und Prävention (Vol. 5). Springer-Verlag.