A Deeper Understanding of Cosplay: An Essay Defining the Subculture


From a sociological point of view, a subculture is considered as a distinct cultural context within a larger and dominant culture. Subcultures have a set of distinct beliefs, norms, and practices (Brym and Lie 2012 47). One of the examples listed below is related to the subculture of cosplay. Cosplay is described as a mixture of subculture and performance art. Cosplayers are often involved in role-playing games that offstage are centered around characters from manga, anime comics, comics, and even movies.

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Cosplay is one of the most creative and innovative subcultures in our times. It is simply costumes, and it requires participants to create costumes to look like some of the characters from films or comic books, video games as well as books. In Japan, these activities are increasing in popularity, and some cosplayers dress up not just at events and formal gatherings, but also daily.

There are a variety of activities cosplayers can engage in. They can be found at sewing parties or photography sessions to events, all the way to the art of modeling. There are many activities available for participants in the cosplay subculture. Because I’m keen on photography, I was involved in a photo shoot that required me to design the set to match the plot.

The idea of the photo shoots was that the photographs should be reminiscent of comic book characters as if they had come to life. This activity requires cosplayers to cooperate: those who create the costumes, the decorations, the models, and the writers of the scripts for the role-playing. Therefore, it requires a lot of collaborative effort to plan these events.

It is a form of performance art because you have to act out your characters and follow the storyline. Cosplay is a distinct subculture as it has a wide range of practices typical of costumes. A set of norms and values are also a part of the subculture of cosplay. The participants have a strong sense of community. The collective effort and care for particulars are also appreciated. It takes time and energy to design the costumes.

Precision and accuracy are essential to make a costume look authentic. Cosplay norms refer to the consistency of costumes for events. It might even be considered inappropriate or unfashionable to create the costume while forgetting about the shoes to match the image. Cosplayers have a special connection that transcends distinctions in race, gender, and physical appearance. Cosplayers appreciate each other for taking the time effort and effort and going to extremes to recreate or retell an epic tale about a favorite person from the universe they have chosen.

Interactionism with symbols

It is possible to further study the cosplay subculture using the theoretical perspective of symbolic interactionism. The sociological framework allows us to study communication on a micro-level and comprehend how people in the subculture interpret certain activities.

We can observe from the above practices of cosplay that cosplayers don’t just react to specific situations, but they create an environment that allows them to act in a specific way. Cosplayers create the world they live in, in terms of symbolic interactionism. This is why mutual respect and collective effort are essential.

The cosplayers feel the sense of being part of a community. This is because constructed reality includes symbolic elements as well as identification techniques. Members of this group are ready to break away from reality and immerse themselves into the world of artificially constructed costume-based play. Costumes serve as symbols and serve as a base to establish the connections between the recreated characters of a given universe.

The symbolism of the world is clearly illustrated in the subculture of cosplay. The reality that is constructed by costume play is based on the use of infinite symbolic instruments that connect the characters. Cosplayers often create new acquaintances and friends through the characters they recreate. Many cosplayers report they feel more confident and self-assured through their activities. This results in new social connections and positive relationships based on common passions. The interactions with other members of the community influence the way one perceives oneself. Interaction is an essential part of cosplay.


Socially imaginative thinking can lead to an understanding of the role of costume as an art form. Mills (1959) declares that social imagination is a means to see the connections between social structures and personal problems. The four levels of social structures define the social structure of each person. Thus, personal concerns are linked to societal aspects at each level of interaction, including microstructures macrostructures, mesostructures as well as global structures. The micro-level of interaction within an individual subculture is related to microstructures and sociological imagination. Sociological awareness lets us think of ourselves as part of the community and of subcultures.

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