Culture Question:

Trash culture is particularly common in Britain. I’m curious about the reasons.  

(posted: Sep 2010)

Trash culture often glorifies destructive behaviours; both behaviours that are self destructive (smoking, binge drinking, drug abuse, risky sex, anti-intellectualism) and ones that are harmful to others (violence, crime, homophobia, racism, xenophobia). The focus of much trash culture is short-term gain or pleasure, with little regard for the long term, or for those outside of a specific group.

Trash culture provides an escape from responsibilities.

People who see little hope for their future are more likely to gravitate towards trash culture than those who are hopeful. In the not so distant past Britain was the most powerful country in the world, with an Empire that spanned the globe. ‘The sun never sets on the British Empire’ was a common saying. By the end of WWII Britain had lost much of its empire The war had crippled its economy. “The decline of several major industries in the UK and the dismantling of the Empire left a country with fundamental holes in its social fabric” (Crabtree)

I think that these were likely contributing causes to trash culture becoming more pervasive in Britain than in Europe as a whole. Economic troubles, unemployment and shrinking prospects left growing numbers of people feeling hopeless. Escape from these realities would have been alluring.

The behaviours common to trash culture also tend to propagate trash culture (ex. drinking leads to riskier behaviours and sometimes to violent or anti-social behaviours). Parents who take little responsibility will raise less responsible children. Britain has seen several generations since the war and trash culture values have been passed down from parents to children, making the cycle challenging to break.



  1. Crabtree, Vexen. “UK Trash Culture”, ( 15-Sep-2010

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Further Reading:

Trash Culture – on Wikipedia