The New Gnostics: The Semiotics of the Hipster
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis forms a sociological investigation of the ‘hipster’ subculture that has grown in importance in recent years. Using the methodology of semiotic analysis, it examines the trends and themes shown by the images that hipsters post on the microblogging website Tumblr, as well as analysing hipster journalism, texts and companies. This communication is conceptualised with reference to Jean Baudrillard’s theory of hyperreality in order to show that hipsters communicate in a way that distorts the perception of real space and results in the abstraction of the meaning of ideas like “global” and “local”. It also explores the importance of secret knowledge in a community that manages to be both secretive and extremely open, comparing this example with the historical case of the Beat Generation, who hipsters have adopted as their progenitors, and discusses how their influence drives the hipster to view the world as a literary text to be re-read and re-interpreted.