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A counterculture (also written counter-culture) is a subculture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores.

A countercultural movement expresses the ethos and aspirations of a specific population during a well-defined era. When oppositional forces reach critical mass, countercultures can trigger dramatic cultural changes.

Prominent examples of countercultures in Europe and North America include Romanticism (1790–1840), Bohemianism (1850–1910), the more fragmentary counterculture of the Beat Generation (1944–1964), and perhaps most prominently, the counterculture of the 1960s (1964–1974), usually associated with the hippie subculture.

The term counterculture is attributed to Theodore Roszak, author of The Making of a Counter Culture. It became prominent in the news media amid the social revolution that swept the Americas, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand during the 1960s.

Scholars differ in the characteristics and specificity they attribute to "counterculture". "Mainstream" culture is of course also difficult to define, and in some ways becomes identified and understood through contrast with counterculture. Counterculture might oppose mass culture (or "media culture"), or middle-class culture and values. Counterculture is sometimes conceptualized in terms of generational conflict and rejection of older or adult values.

Counterculture may or may not be explicitly political. It typically involves criticism or rejection of currently powerful institutions, with accompanying hope for a better life or a new society. It does not look favorably on party politics or authoritarianism.