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Subcultures: Search Strategy

For Meagan Ciesla's English 1000 class

AND - All the Words


Venn Diagramm: Boys AND China

A search for boys AND China or an "All the Words" search for boys China will only give you results containing BOTH words.

Use AND or All the words searches to narrow or focus your results.

OR - Any of the Words

Venn Diagram: Heart OR Cardio

A search for heart OR cardio* or an "Any of the Words" search for heart cardio* will give you results containing EITHER word.

Use OR or Any of the Words for synonyms or closely related words.

Scholarly Content and Hyperlocal Subcultures

Remember that scholarly writing (academic books and peer-reviewed journal articles) takes a longer time to produce than journalistic writing.

If your topic is a fairly recent phenomenon, or if it hasn't been noticed yet, you may not find much in the scholarly literature.


  • Search a little more broadly.  Search for "film culture" OR "movie culture" OR "cinema culture" instead of "Ragtag Cinema."  Search for "reenactment society" instead of Medieval and Renaissance Reenactment Society. The material you find here will help you find broard generalizations that you can compare to your culture.

  • Find articles on related but broader and/or slightly older subculture that share a "content" similarity, e.g., if looking at Zombies vs. Humans players, find articles on the culture of zombie films (sample search: zombie* and (film* or movie*) and cultur*)  Talk about how your subculture of choice is similar, or different, or both, from this related subculture: how much, or little, do Zombies vs. Humans players resemble and/or overlap with zombie movie fans?  Are they the same people, or not?  Do some ideas in the article on the appeal of zombie films apply to this subculture, or is it apples & Twinkies?

  • Find articles on subcultures in a similar analytical category, in this case, college gaming subcultures, or subcultures that take over college spaces in unconventional ways, e.g., streaking.  Analyze how your subculture is similar to, and different from, these other college subcultures. 

Combining AND and OR

(Chinese OR Korean OR Japanese)


(cuisine  OR cooking OR recipes)

...will give you articles/books on the food of any of these countries.

Grouping Words

Quotation marks force phrases:

  • "Ragtag Cinema"
  • "independent film"
  • "Society for Creative Anachronism"

Asterisk finds word variants starting with a string of letters:

  • re-enact*  (finds: re-enactment, re-enactors...)
  • documentar* (finds: documentarians, documentary, documentaries...)

Google Books allows you to use the asterisk to subsitute for words in between other words:

  • "students * Nerf"
  • "college students * zombies"