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Vocabulary Tasks

1 Match these adjectives with the definitions.

1 casual A old/worn a lot

2 scruffy В carefully dressed

3 shabby С well (expensively) dressed

4 smart D informal

5 neat E untidy/dirty

2 What adjectives would you use to describe Goths’ clothes?

beautifully-dressed good-looking scruffy plain pretty strange-looking

shabby neat informal striking unattractive unusual


You are going to read a magazine article about Teenage Cults. Express your opinion on each part of the article and say if you find the theories convincing and why.

Ever since the early 1950s there have bee attempts to explain why youth cults happen. None of them has been entirely convincing.

The reaction theory

Teenagers want to show how different they are from their parents and, perhaps more importantly, their older brothers and sisters. If the last fashion had long hair and wide trousers, then the next one will have short hair and narrow trousers. There seems to be a lot of truth in this.

The global village theory

Because of films, records, television and radio, teenagers are aware of what their contemporaries are doing all around the English-speaking world. Almost as soon as there were hippies in San Francisco, we had them too. A problem with this theory is that the time has to be right for a style to be adopted. The main influence on teenagers remains their friends.

The teenage idol theory

Teenagers imitate the people they look up to, chiefly film stars and pop performers. When David Bowie used eye shadow, so did many of his male fans. However, this only succeeds if the pop star is in tune with the way youth culture is already going.

The technology theory

Many developments in teenage culture were possible only because of new technology. Electric guitars plus amplification meant that you could have pop groups and pop festivals. The transistor radio made pop music inevitable.

The drug culture theory

This theory suggests that the nature of a youth cult is determined by the drugs that it takes. Speed (amphetamine) equals aggression and energy – think of punks and skinheads. Pot (cannabis) equals relaxation and mysticism – think of hippies. Even ordinary society has its drugs such as alcohol and nicotine. But maybe the style came before the drug.

The capitalist domination theory

Youth culture happened because commerce understood that teenagers had money to spend and worked out ways of making them buy more records, clothes and concert tickets. This does not account for cults that were anti-consumerist, like the punks and hippies.

The class theory

This is sophisticated left-wing theory. Youth cults assert the solidarity of young people who are victimized by society. Skinheads take aspects of working-class culture to an extreme. They almost enjoy people looking down on them.

There is no simple explanation. My own research points to these general observations. Firstly, cults don’t arrive fully formed, flourish and then die; they are constantly changing and their message evolving. Secondly, teenagers only join a cult if it feels right, but most kids want to be something and cults give the something to be.


I. Look at these short descriptions of two persons. How different are they from each other?

Description 1.

My cousin, Paul, is a tallish man in his mid thirties. He is a bit plump and has got long straight hair which he wears in a pony tail. He has a round friendly-looking face with a little scar on his cheek from a childhood accident. He has got bright blue eyes and wears glasses. He has got a beard. He isn't very smart and tends to wear shabby clothes.

Description 2.

Eve was a small woman with a tiny waist and slender elegant legs. She had small hands with long tapering fingers. Her face was wide at the cheekbones and narrow at the chin, her forehead high, her upper lip short and her mouth full and lovely. Slightly tilted, her pretty nose was a little too small for her face. She had large hazel-green eyes and black eyebrows like Chinese brush-strokes, not unlike Sean's, and her thick, shiny, dark hair reached to the middle of her back. But she was very small, no more than five feet or five feet one at best. Liza didn't know her weight, they had no scales, but when she was sixteen Eve estimated seven and a half stone for herself and eight stone and a bit for Liza and that was probably right. Yet this tiny woman had somehow moved a man one and a half times her weight and nearly six feet tall. And put him where? Somewhere in the wood, Liza decided, when she thought about it around that sixteenth birthday.

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