There are many subculture definitions, but it is hard to define subculture in one basic definition, so the best way to define subculture is to mention some most common of many subculture definitions.

Various subculture definitions

Although, or perhaps because, the term subculture has been used by anthropologists and sociologists in variety of ways and contexts, it contains much ambiguity. The prefix ‘sub’ refers only to a subcategory of culture, a part of the whole; it does not necessarily indicate a derogation unless a particular subculture is viewed as undesirable by members of dominant or a contrary value system. For analytical purposes, the sociologist uses the term ‘subculture’ without a value judgment.

subculture definition

E.B. Taylor in 1871 made probably the first definition of culture:

” Culture… taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. ”

Milton Gordon in 1947 defined subculture as:

” …a subdivision of a national culture, composed of a combination of factorable social situation such as class status, ethic background, regional and rural or urban residence, and religious affilitation, but forming in their combination a functional unity which has an integrated impact on the participating individual. ”

Milton Yinger definition of subculture:

” And subculture, I have suggested, is used to designate both the traditional norms of a sub-society and the emergent norms of a group caught in a frustrating and conflict-laden situation. This indicates that there are differences in the origin, function, and perpetuation of traditional and emergent norms, and suggests that the use if the concept contra-culture for the latter might improve sociological analysis. ”

Segments of culture which (while reflecting the dominant aspects of the main culture) show different customs, norms, and values, due to differences in geographical areas or (within an organization) departmental goals and job requirements.
Subculture definition by: ” Leading Culture Change ” by Christopher S. Dawson

“An ethnic, regional, economic, or social group exhibiting characteristic patterns of behavior sufficient to distinguish it from others within an embracing culture or society.”
Subculture definition by:

“A subdivision of a national culture or an enclave within it with a distinct integrated network of behaviour, beliefs, and attitudes.”
Subculture definition by: “The American Heritage, Dictionary of the English Language” by Houghton Mifflin Company

“The cultural values and behavioral patterns distinctive of a particular group in a society.”
Subculture definition by:

“In modern societies, the most fundamental groups are the social classes, and the major cultural configurations will be, in a fundamental though often mediated way, ‘class culture’. Relative to these culturalclass configurations, sub-cultures are sub-sets – smaller, more localised and differentiated structures, within one or other of the larger cultural networks.”
Culture, Ideology and Social Process

“The term ‘subculture’ refers . . . to ‘cultural variants displayed by certain segments of the population’. Subcultures are distinguished not by one or two isolated traits – they constitute relatively cohesive social systems. They are worlds within the larger world of our national culture.”
Komarovsky and Sargent

“A society contains numerous subgroups, each with its own characteristic ways of thinking and acting. These cultures within cultures are called subcultures.”

“Such shared learned behaviors which are common to a specific group or category are called subcultures.”
Young and Mack

E.B. Taylor
Milton Yinger