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The rise of cultural currency: a new era for Gen Z and beyond

By Luke Hodson, Founder

NERDS Collective


The Drum Network article

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May 10, 2023 | 6 min read

Luke Hodson of Nerds Collective explores how younger generations rediscovering their cultural roots are redefining brand credibility.

Man in black coat stood in front of mural

Cultural currency is more than just doing cool shit; it’s about equity, says Nerds’ Luke Hodson / Charles Deluvio

In recent years, the cultural currency has emerged as a significant factor for young people, shaping their identities, values, and perspectives by providing social cache through their connection to specific cultural expressions.

Gen Z is actively seeking cultural communities that reflect their niche interests and provide a space to embrace their cultural roots and ancestral heritage. This paradigm shift is reshaping the landscape of pop culture, moving away from a Eurocentric perspective, and fostering a more globalized one.

Rediscovering cultural roots & heritage

As Gen-Z delves deeper into their cultural backgrounds, they are increasingly celebrating and incorporating their roots into various aspects of their lives, including style, music, creative expression, and even politics.

By reconnecting with their heritage, young people are gaining a greater understanding and appreciation of their ancestors’ struggles, achievements, and legacies. This newfound connection is also allowing them to develop a more profound sense of belonging and identity within their communities.

Pop culture’s shift away from Eurocentrism

The influence of Eurocentric perspectives has long dominated global pop culture. However, as young people seek out platforms for cultural exchange, they are actively challenging this narrative by embracing and promoting cultural diversity.

Gen Z is amplifying the voices of marginalized communities, showcasing their unique cultural expressions, and breaking down barriers that have historically limited opportunities for underrepresented voices and groups.

Local vs global, modernity v tradition

Young people today are exploring the delicate balance between local and global, modernity and tradition, ancestral and contemporary culture. By blending various cultural elements, they are developing hybrid cultural heritages that both honor their roots and allow them to adapt to an ever-changing world.

This amalgamation of influences empowers young people to cultivate a more inclusive and dynamic cultural landscape, promoting tolerance, understanding, and empathy.

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The stories behind the trends

As cultural currency gains momentum, there is a growing need for brands to focus on the stories behind the trends. Young people are no longer satisfied with merely consuming pop culture; they want to understand the origins, significance, and impact of the creative expressions they embody. Brands must find ways to pay homage to the cultural roots of the trends they position themselves around.

Empowering communities & cultural movements

The shift towards cultural currency is not just about recognizing and appreciating diverse cultural expressions; it is also about empowering the communities and cultural movements behind and beyond the trends.

Young people are focused on brands that are taking action to support marginalized groups by advocating for social justice, amplifying underrepresented voices, and engaging in grassroots activism. Brands’ commitment to cultural currency is more than just doing cool shit; it’s about fostering a more equitable and inclusive society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Paving the way for diversity

Cultural currency is undeniably reshaping the way young people approach and engage with the world around them. By embracing their cultural roots, challenging Eurocentric perspectives, and exploring the complexities of local and global influences, Gen Z is forging a new path towards a more inclusive and diverse cultural landscape.

The rise of cultural currency is not just a passing trend; it is a testament to the power Gen Z holds in redefining cultural norms and values.

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Content by The Drum Network member:

NERDS Collective

NERDS Collective was founded by Luke Hodson In 2013 as a specialist agency that places brands at the frontline of street culture through hyper-nuanced consumer insights,...

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