The Mod and Punk Cultural Groups

The Mod and Punk Cultural Groups

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The Mod subculture is said to have started as an anti-capitalist rebellion that began in London back in 1978. It later spread to New York and played a significant role in adapting New York City’s underground culture into mainstream fashion trends. Punk in the USA is defined as a subculture that began in the United States during the early 1970s and spread to the rest of the world, giving rise to an associated fashion, music, politics and lifestyle. The Mod in Britain is similarly considered a British subculture that emerged during the early 1960s. The critical difference between these two sub-cultures is behavioural. What are some of these differences? Punks tend to have anti-authoritarian attitudes while Mods embrace norms. For example, Mods tend to conform more than Punks do when following social standards like dress and mannerisms. Punk allows for individual expression, while Mod society is comparatively conservative on this front, never allowing individuals to deviate from societal expectations.

The Mod subculture is said to have started as an anti-capitalist rebellion that started in London back in 1978. It later spread to New York and played a major role in adapting New York City’s underground culture into mainstream fashion trends. The Mod subculture was also seen as a source of fashionable inspiration to various music artists and Broadway actors. This subculture has been known to have influenced the Hippie movement through its Pop Art fashion trends. Mod fashion considers other attributes, including grooming, gadgets, shoes and accessories in addition to clothes and the importance of being neat (Glynn, 2018). The revolutionary element of this subculture is said to stem from its ability to have a social impact on the youth that participated in it. The subculture has influenced the Hippie movement with its Pop Art clothing trends, music and dance; this was seen during the revival of these art forms during the 1980s.

Cultural subgroups refer to the different types of cultural groups within a society. A subculture relates to people with a shared interest, occupation or lifestyle. These groups, classified as youth subcultures, are usually associated with music and fashion. This article will explore the various youth subcultures and their effect on society today. The formative years of youth subcultures can be traced back to the 1960s and 1970s, when the Beatles came together uniquely, which allowed their identities to be defined. The Beatles, for example, were a part of several subcultures, including the beatniks, hippies and flower children. As a result of this multi-dimensional lifestyle, the Beatles became globalized and were able to translate their culture into a diversity of musical styles. With the creation of modern fashion during this era, there are more subcultures than ever before within youth. Other examples of youth cultural subgroups outside the United States are the Mods, Punks and Goths (Glynn, 2018). Cultural subgroups have withstood the test of time and continued for decades.

Many traits are common throughout all cultural subgroups. One of the most prominent cultural subgroups is the Punk culture which originated in North America during the late 1970s (Jakubovic, 2020). Punks were known for their violent behaviour, anti-social mindset and rejection of mainstream fashion trends. This rejection later evolved into a DIY (do-it-yourself) mentality. Instead of shopping at mainstream stores or boutiques, they would create their fashions by using thrift store clothing, vintage items, or handmade jewellery (Jakubovic, 2020).

Mod originated from London and spread to other cities around the UK. The fashion is inspired by Jamaican culture and was popularized in England in the early 1960s. It became associated with teenage gang culture and violence, the rise of skinheads and youth gangs, and working-class poverty and class conflict (Dow, 2021). There were two subgroups of Mods during this time: pre-Mods, who wore suits to work; Mods proper, who wore 1950s style drape jackets with a button-down shirt or T-shirt tucked in. Mod’s popularity waned in the mid-1960s due to changing fashion trends and social unrest due to Vietnam War protests (Glynn, 2018). In the late 1960s, many mods in England became hippies, while others started the skinhead movement. Many mods grew their hair long and bought suits and shirts in exotic prints or bold colours (such as pink) to set themselves apart from the skinheads. The mod scene was revived in the late 1970s and continues today as a subculture (Singleton, 2018).

Youth Cultural Mod fashion is characterized by drape jackets and sta-prest pants worn with white or black socks and loafers. Wearing this fashion, some teens are also known to wear skinny jeans and a T-shirt, generally considered a short suit or “sartorial equivalent” of the drape jacket. An everyday Mod hairstyle consists of long, wavy or shaggy hair worn with a flattop fade, mohawk or quiff. Mod culture is reflected in popular music and pop culture through the artwork of David Hockney and others. Mod revivalists have released records such as “Live! At The Blue Apple” (1995) by The Quireboys, “Tonite’s The Night” (1996) by Ford & Lopatin, “The Quireboys Live…At The 100 Club”, released in 1993, and “Trouble Over Tokyo” (2005) by the High Strung (Singleton, 2018).

In television, the Mod subculture was featured in an episode of “The Monkees” called “The Chaperone” (1967), in which the Monkees were drafted as chaperones to a group of British teenagers visiting America. The teenagers were played by actors Nancy Sinatra, Tisha Sterling and Paul Peterson and the Mod fashions worn on the show were brought over from Great Britain. The Monkees also appeared on a British music program called Ready Steady Go! They performed with a mod band called Sounds Incorporated (Singleton, 2018).

The diversity of experience individuals affiliated with the Mod cultural subgroup has with the police, including being arrested, led to the adoption of a uniform style called the “smart casual look”, or sta-prest. Sta-prest refers to the bright appearance of sta-press trousers, worn with button-down shirts or t-shirts to look professional. Sta-press trousers are made from a thick, sturdy fabric, with extra material and a zip at the crotch to sit comfortably on motorcycles (Dow, 2021).

Mod subculture, mainly since the 1960s, has been linked to amphetamine and other stimulant drugs such as cocaine as a recreation or performance-enhancing drug. This usage is sometimes called “speed” or “purple hearts”. The use of amphetamines was every day among Mod groups in the 1960s, with one study of Mod followers identifying that 21% had used the drug (Dow, 2021). Furthermore, other medicines, such as cannabis (which had become more readily available in intelligent shops and headshops), were also prevalent among individuals who associated themselves with the Mod subculture.

The concept of “speed” has been used as a social network masking across subcultures. In the case of the Mod subculture, it was a means of isolating and distancing oneself from others who were not users, thus allowing them to enjoy an element of group membership that would otherwise be seen negatively. Mod subculture has thus been described as a “speed” society, where users prefer to associate with each other rather than with non-users who may have felt uncomfortable at parties or in the company of people using drugs (Kolosnichenko & Chrichlow, 2020).

There are few hard statistics on deaths and hospitalizations caused by illegal recreational drugs such as amphetamine and cocaine. Still, they are known to cause problems worsened by their illegality. Illicit drugs such as amphetamines are known to contribute to high blood pressure, which may result in a heart attack or stroke. As with many illegal drugs, it is often difficult to know how much of the drug is present, making it more dangerous than other recreational drugs (Tzoustas, 2018).

In recent years there has been a surge in interest in Mod culture from the United States and other nations that did not experience the original Mod revival. This has led to international “Mod” style subcultures designed in the 1960s British London Mod style. These groups are primarily made up of younger people who do not have the direct cultural ties to the British subculture that allowed older generations to identify as Mods.

(Kolosnichenko & Chrichlow, 2020) argues that Mods considered fashion an integral part of their lifestyle and something they cared greatly about. Shirts were worn unbuttoned at the front style referred to as a “lounge lizard”. Ties were generally bought in “cut down” because many people did not like the standard pre-tied types.

Mod’s music often incorporates the sounds of R&B, jazz and soul. Their fashion choices have come to reflect these musical tendencies as well. They usually prefer individualized sounds over traditional or popular music choices to establish their tastes or emotions regarding modern-day fashion trends. They often wear outfits with a strong contrast between light and dark colours. The Mod dress code can be described as bold and colorful (Kolosnichenko & Chrichlow, 2020). When Mod talks to one another, they frequently stand upright, arms crossed and hands thrust into their pockets.

Subways are where most of the Mod population rides throughout their day to work, school, or wherever else they need to get around in the big city. However, there are plenty of subcultures and counter-cultures that ride the subway in the city. For example, it was recently revealed that The Mod community had developed a new punk movement responding to gentrification and police brutality (Kolosnichenko & Chrichlow, 2020).

Mod’s love to travel is an integral part of a solid social identity. An important symbol of conformity among the Mod cultural subgroup owns a fashionable but affordable car. Mods have a specific taste in music that they can express through modified vehicles, such as souped-up Mustangs or such. Some Mod’s like to use them as bikes, while others take the cars to show off and drive fast with music blaring (Kolosnichenko & Chrichlow, 2020). Mods love fast cars and the feeling of freedom it gives them. Thus transportation has become an important symbol of their identity.

Mod is also portrayed through clothing which is often considered more vivid and expressive than other subgroups’. The essential Mod clothing items include stylish shoes and boots, haircuts, sunglasses, and ties. Mod fashion is gender-specific mainly, as the attire of rockabilly and ska music often parodies Mod style. For example, in the era of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album, Mods would wear platform shoes and colourful clothes. The use of heavy eyeliner was also a Mod trait. One of the first subgroups that helped define “Mod” was the Tornados, which began their rise to prominence in 1958 with their first hit single “, Telstar” (Kolosnichenko & Chrichlow, 2020). They followed it up with many hits, including “Telstar (Just a Sign from God)”, which sold one million copies on its release alone.

The Mod and the Punk cultural subgroups are similar in various aspects. They both are associated with respect for authority, and they both are assumed to have a good reputation. The main difference is that the Mod subgroup is considered more distinguished and formalized, while the Punk subgroup is more rebellious and less formal. The Mod group has a higher stature than the Punk group in many cultural contexts, making it easier to be accepted in some situations.

The best-known contrast between these two subgroups is that mods are typically viewed as having a higher status than punks. People who comprise these cultural groups are generally young adults from 18 to 25. You will find them in major metropolitan areas or small cities worldwide. In Britain and America, this cultural group is found more often in large cities than in smaller ones (Beaumont). It is somewhat hard to find these groups in rural areas of the world since they would rather live in urban environments.

The main description is someone considered of high status, has a ‘right’ attitude and usually dresses well. They can be regarded as ‘cool’ and highly popular for their style and appearance. The group that relates to this culture consists of those with different qualities from their counterparts, such as those with the same fashion sense but different attitudes (Beaumont). Another one associated with the Mod culture is someone who enjoys listening to pop music, playing computer games, driving an automobile with powerful engines, wearing fashionable clothes and having luxurious belongings (Beaumont).

On the other hand, the punk subgroup is a more rebellious group that exhibits its unique culture. This group is characterized by expressing their feelings freely, tends to break the rules, and does not dress formally. Although this group may have a negative image in society, these two groups are still considered the same cultural subgroup because all members share similarities and understand what they want (Beaumont).

The Mod subgroup includes those who can be described as ‘cool,’ yet these people usually hold a good reputation. They usually dress well, carry themselves with high style and can be accepted in many situations. However, those in the Mod subgroup are usually superficial and manipulative. For the most part, they are reserved and tend to be aloof. They may be competitive and ambitious, but their competitiveness is usually more toward their appearance than actual achievement. Mod people of both genders can be quite charming and are often good with words. They can smooth talk their way out of many sticky situations with minor damage to themselves or others. A Mod woman can manage to get a man’s attention by making herself look desirable or by showing interest in what he is saying or doing.

The significant patterns of behaviour associated with the Mod subgroup of the transient subculture of British 60’s youth were marked by obsessive attention to clothes and fashion trends, an interest in pop music culture, and a lively dance style. The Mod subculture was defined by members of the fashion, music and media industries themselves as ‘a nascent yet self-conscious style of dress, music, and behaviour which appealed strongly to the emerging youth in Britain at that time’ (Singleton, 2018).

The factors that influenced the Mod subgroup’s emergence in Britain were its relationship with the Carnaby Street trend in London’s West End in 1964 and their adoption of American pop styles such as Beatle’s songs and Hare Krishna music. The Mod movement started on a small scale in 1963 when ‘Teddy Boys were being ejected from clubs faster than they could gain admission’ (Dobrulia, 2021). and was linked with the already existing British Mod subculture that had begun in 1961.

The Mod subculture in the 1960s was primarily associated with nightclubs, psychedelic drugs and marijuana. This aspect of the culture was prevalent in London’s West End. The late 1960s saw a sudden increase in the Mod subculture, especially amongst members of university student groups who described themselves as ‘Mods’ or ‘Reds’. The first wave of Mods was mainly male and was described as dressed in all black, wearing flat caps and ‘sharp-creased English suits (Dobrulia, 2021).

The subculture was associated with a distinctive hairstyle: short back and sides, flat-topped, sometimes quiffed hair on top. For Mods to be recognized by other Mods, they would wear a distinctive uniform. This consisted of a short-sleeved shirt, cotton trousers or skirt and black or brown brogues. In the 1960s, it was worn with a waistcoat over the shirt, and often hair would be slicked back with Brylcreem. In later years the Mod subculture became less clear-cut in dress codes and hairstyles, but the name remained (Singleton, 2018).

The Mod subculture was known for their love of music, typically British pop music from before 1964. English Mods adopted the typical continental male fashion of the day: suits with narrow lapels, thin ties or black velvet ribbon ties, button-down collar shirts, narrow-legged trousers and Chelsea boots. From about 1966 onwards, the popularity of suits declined, and more functional clothes such as parkas came into favour. From 1967 American-style safari jackets were popular among some sections of mod youth (Singleton, 2018).

Punks enjoy more expressive personal space than Mods. For example, Punks engage in more significant interaction with others than Mods. This is due to their understanding of social norms and the need to challenge them. On the other hand, there is a greater tendency for strict boundaries between individuals in Mod society. Punks value self-expression more than the Mod subculture does when it comes to dressing and mannerisms. This is because they are less concerned with social norms expressing and challenging gender roles. At the same time, Mods tend to care a great deal about such normative behaviour even when this clashes with other societal expectations.

Punk music is generally more improvisational than Mod music (Vad, 2018). For example, Punk tends to be more experimental due to its greater emphasis on personal expression. In contrast, Mod tends towards a more normative and repetitive structure when it comes to music. Punks have a greater appreciation for art than do Mods. This is because they are more concerned with self-expression, while artistic concerns influence the Mod subculture less. The exception is the Mod subculture of Japan, where their art culture was inspired by the original British Mod culture of the sixties.

Punks are less inclined to show their respect for authority figures in public than Mods are since they value self-expression and the freedom to do as one wishes (Jakubovic, 2020). On the other hand, Mods are more inclined to detach themselves from social norms to create their identity. Punks tend to be more family-oriented than Mods since they value and desire a greater degree of individual expression. However, this is often complicated because the Mod subculture of the United States was traditionally very much a “brotherhood” subculture that was influenced by widespread anti-authoritarianism in American civil rights and anti-war movements.

The Mod subculture of Britain is also generally considered less male-dominated than the Punk movement, while on a global scale, it is male-dominated. The Mod subculture is perceived in British culture as being more concerned with style, music, fashion and presentation rather than the politics of Punk (Singleton, 2018). The Mod subculture was spread through the work of British musicians who presented themselves as part of a cultural movement that came from London’s West End clubs. The scene grew out of dissatisfaction with British society and rebellion against widespread poverty, particularly in Northern England during the early 1960s. It was outwardly male-dominated, while on a global scale, it is considered female-dominated due to recent research by Dr Alex Bentley suggesting that there are more female Mods in the UK than men.


In conclusion, the central cultural norms and values in relation to the Mod cultural subgroup are fashion, music, transportation, and the generation gap. Fashion: The Mod culture has a particular dress code characterized by a “sharp look” and bold colours. Fashion norms in this subgroup focus on establishing individuality by contrasting clothing items. The Mod culture is also linked to a specific music genre, called rhythm and blues or R&B. R&B is characterized by dominant rhythm and bass lines and a strong drive. The last subculture related to the Mod culture is the transportation means of this generation. Most respondents used a scooter or a motorcycle in the younger culture. These transportation means were highly appreciated in terms of individual expression and mobility. One of the most important cultural values in relation to the Mod culture was the perception of “older generations” towards this subculture group.


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Dow, T. (2021). The Migration of Mod: Analysing the Mod Subculture in the North of England (Doctoral dissertation, University of Huddersfield).

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