What the Outline Should Look Like


For the subculture paper outline, you will use a proper heading and MLA 2009 format and employ a topic outline, with short phrases and citations.


The parts of an outline are typically labeled using this order:


I. Main idea

A. Subtopic

1. Detail of subtopic

2. Another detail

a. Related idea about the detail

b. Another related idea

(1) Supporting fact or related matter

(2) Perhaps another supporting fact

(a) Micro-detail

(b) Another micro-detail

B. Second subtopic

1. Detail of second subtopic

2. Another detail

a. Supporting information for this second detail

b. Added supporting information related to second detail


In general, you may find that you will have different amounts of details for some topics and subtopics than for others. That is acceptable; just seek to keep your descriptions in balance, not overemphasizing some topics at the expense of others.


When you have a part I, there should be at least a part II, and possibly a part III.


When you have an A, there should also be at least a B, and so on. Usually no element should occur singly; when one supporting point is listed, there should be at least one more at that level.


Below is a possible rough outline for the subculture paper:

Introduction with thesis, then:


  1. Who or what is the subculture?
  2. What is the history/background?

III. What are the core beliefs/practices/ideals?  What do they do together?  Subculture-specific language/jargon/uniform/dress?

IV. What do others think about them?

  1. What are current issues, problems, or concerns that are affecting the subculture now?

VI. How do social media and media come into play for this subculture?  How are they represented/misrepresented in the media?  How do they use social media for recruitment?  What are the key blogs/websites?  How are they portrayed in pop culture?

  1. VII.  What is the subculture’s presence on campus?  In Chico?  Northern California?


Also keep in mind:  Who are the role models in this subculture?  Famous members of this subculture?  Former members?


(Eventually your conclusion…)




Make sure your outline is VERY detailed – as if I have never heard of this subculture before!  Since you’ll be writing about your own experience and understanding of this subculture, as well as describing the culture from others’ perspectives, you need to use both a first person and third person voice throughout the paper.

On the outline you will include facts, data, details, and citations.  Consider this a working draft, just without the complete sentences.


Throughout the outline/paper, include information from your interview with your subculture informant, expert, and/or scholar.

Here are some more details you can use to structure your paper:

III.   Core Beliefs/Practices/Ideals:

  • Describe some of the worldviews, beliefs, values, attitudes, etc. shared by members of this subculture.  Consider whether they share a common way of thinking, philosophy, ideology, religion, etc. (e.g. superstitions, discrimination, common goals…).

            Cultural Rules:

  • Discuss several examples of this group’s cultural rules, and possible unwritten rules (this might be harder to uncover, as unwritten rules are those which people don’t readily recognize).
  • Describe some of the status differences that exist in this subculture, or examples of stratification.
  • Discuss any gender-related issues present in this community.


  • Consider whether this subculture uses specialized terminology, codes, jargon or slang that is unique to this group.  If so, provide several examples with a brief description of each.





Interesting Links to Explore

(Keep in mind that not all of these fit the requirements for the paper for this class.  We have different guidelines for the topic itself and we are using 2009 MLA.)

A sample with great details on organizing a subculture paper:






Rave culture in Lithuania:


Graffiti culture:

Rave– Technoshamanism:


Sample outline starting on the next page:


Student Bernard (make sure to have a running head/page numbers)

Linda Rogers

ENGL 130I-Section ___

Outline for Paper 2

27 Month 2013

BDSM, Not So Crazy After All

            BDSM is a very taboo subject. Mainly because of its content and people tend to associate it with violence. BDSM stands for bondage, discipline/dominance, submission/sadism, masochism. It is a type of sexual encounter that many people favor. However, BDSM is viewed in a negative light and many people think that those who participate in this activity have some type of psychological disorder. In reality, it is a way of life that people identify with. This community is no more inclined to psychological disorders than the general public.

Who or what is the BDSM subculture?

  1. According to Pamela Connolly, an expert in sexuality, states that “BDSM is a collective term that refers to erotic behaviors involving bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism, and/or slave and master relationships” (Connolly 80).
  2. Their sexual interests lie in this type of relationship.
  3. There is a dominant partner and a submissive partner. These partners generally keep the same roles, with about 4% that switch roles (Stiles 164).
  4. According to Freeman, who works at University of California, Davis, “sadomasochism is a sexually ‘minor’ practice, an erotic dialectic between two or more people, that ostensibly focuses on the ritualized exchange of power” (35).


What is the history/background?

  1. BDSM can be traced back to Ancient Greece.
  2. Marquis de Sade wrote about S/M in his fictional writings during the 18th century inFrance.
    1. According to Sade, “S/M also shuttles (or plays at shuttling) between the modern time of the French Revolution and the non- (or pre-+ modern time of the ancient régime” (Freeman 35).
    2. Sade reinvented sex during a revolutionary time.

What are the core beliefs/practices/ideals?  What do they do together?

  1. BDSM is practiced when both partners are consensual about the arrangements.
  2. There is generally one dominant (Dom) and one submissive (Sub) partner in the relationship.
  3. Each role is often played by the same partner.
    1. Stiles found in her study that only 4% of participants switched roles (164).

What do others think about them?

  1. This group is largely misrepresented.
  2. There is much stigma behind this subculture.
    1. “The stigma results from cultural evaluations or labeling of BDSM as deviant” (Stiles 159).
    2. The general public is not accepting or knowledgeable about this lifestyle.
    3. Many people see it as an act of violence.
    4. It is also seen as something that people with psychological disorders do, which is completely false.
    5. Many people associate BDSM as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
    6. People also think that being a part of this subculture is a result from childhood abuse.
    7. This stigma leads to secrecy and concealment of this lifestyle.
      1. Stigma is “an attribute that is deeply discrediting to an individual” so many people go through much struggle to try and conceal this part of their life from others (Stiles 159).
      2. They do not wish to feel the judgments that many people entail about this lifestyle, so they hide it.
      3. Many people think that BDSM is just about the dominant partner or feeling pain.
        1. It is about the sexual activities that a person finds attractive.

i.      That includes the way someone feels when they dominate another person, or the way a person feels when they are dominated.

  1. Some people are attracted to the idea of pushing their limits sexually and painfully, but they enjoy the feelings of the actions and do not considerate as harmful.

What are current issues, problems, or concerns that are affecting the subculture now?

  1. The current main issues affecting the BDSM subculture are the general misunderstandings about this lifestyle.
    1. Many people view it as a result of past trauma, but it is really just a way of life that many people prefer.
    2. They also see people of this lifestyle of having psychological disorders, when in fact, people of this subculture are no more subject to psychological disorders than the general public (Connolly).

How do social media and media come into play for this subculture?

  1. This subculture has been in the media a lot more in the past couple of years.
  2. There have been a few popular songs that talk about engaging in the BDSM lifestyle.
    1. Rihanna’s “S&M” and Lady Gaga’s song “Teeth”.
    2. BDSM has also been prevalent in literature.
      1. The first being seen in Marquis de Sade’s novels in the mid-18th century.
      2. The most popular and has been the center of much attention in the media recently is E L James’ series 50 Shades of Grey.

i.      This series depicts a BDSM relationship.

  1. The Story of O by Pauline Réage is a central work in BDSM literature.
  2. BDSM also has a very big following on the internet.
    1. There are many social media websites and blogs that are devoted to the BDSM lifestyle.
    2. This is a place where members of this community can talk and interact.
    3. They are also able to meet other members of this community and find relationships this way.
    4. There is a huge cyber-support system for this subculture.

i.      Reddit has a very large BDSM community, as well as BlogSpot.

What is the subculture’s presence on campus?  In Chico?  Northern California?

  1. There is a big prevalence of the BDSM subculture in Northern California, specifically the Bay Area and San Francisco.
  2. People are more “out” about this lifestyle in areas that have higher queer populations and are socially more accepting of taboos.

Also keep in mind:  Who are the role models in this subculture?  Any famous members of this subculture?

  1. The most famous members of this subculture stem from E L James’ novels 50 Shades of Grey.
    1. This book was on the New York Bestsellers list and has been a hot topic in the media because no other bestsellers have been about a subject that is this racy.
    2. This book is how many people know about the BDSM subculture.
    3. As a result, BDSM is being more accepted by the general public because more people can understand the practices and functioning of these types of relationships.

BDSM is a subculture that is taboo and carries much stigma with it. In the past it was seen a sick way of sexual affection. In reality, it is a lifestyle that many people choose because they are sexually attracted to these types of sanctions. BDSM used to be a psychological disorder, but it has been discovered that people who associate with this lifestyle have the same amounts of psychological disorders as the general public. More light is starting to be shed on this subculture and the stigma is being lifted and the general public is warming to this topic. Hopefully within the next few years people of the BDSM subculture will not have to fear judgment for their lifestyle and will be accepted and not have to live secret and concealing lives.


Works Cited

Browne, Kath, and Jason Lim, and Gavin Brown. Geographies of Sexualities: Theory, Practices, and Politics.Burlington: Ashgate. 2007. Print.

Connolly, Pamela. “Psychological Functioning of Bondage/Domination/Sado-Masochism (BDSM) Practicioners.” Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality 18.1 (2006). 79-120. Web. 27 June 2013.

Freeman, Elizabeth. “Turn the Beat Around: Sadomasochism, Temporality, History.” Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. 19.1 (2008): 33-70. Web. 27 June 2013.

Stiles, Beverly, and Robert Clark. “BDSM: a Subcultural Analysis of Sacrifices and Delights.” Deviant Behavior 32.2 (2011): 158-189. Web. 27 June 2013.

Stockwell, Fawna, Diana Walker, and John Eshleman. “Measures of Implicit and Explicit Attitudes Toward Mainstream and BDSM Sexual Terms Using the IRAP and Questionnaire with BDSM/Fetish and Student Participants.” Psychological Record 60.2 (2010): 307-324. Web. 27 June 2013.



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