“It Felt Like a Little War”: Reflections on Violence against Alternative Subcultures

This article examines the forms and impact of violence against people identifying as members of alternative subcultures. It draws upon the findings from interviews and focus groups undertaken with over 60 participants from a range of alternative subcultural backgrounds, conducted as part of a broader two-year study of many different strands of targeted hostility. The article presents evidence to show that ‘alternatives’ are subjected to a wide range of violent and intimidatory behaviour, from ‘everyday’ abuse such as verbal insults through to more extreme acts of brutality. This can affect their physical and mental health, causing them to change the way they conduct their routine activities. However, the article suggests that some of this victimisation forms part of ongoing conflict with a group that participants describe as ‘chavs’, that has hitherto been unacknowledged. This ‘little war’ is characterised by mutual hostility and antipathy flavoured by class antagonism that can escalate into violent confrontation.