Counterculture describes a specific, long-term socially effective subset of a given culture. In contrast to a " subculture " is - according to John Milton Yinger - the " counter-culture " the questioning of primary norms and values ​​of the majority culture understood. This play sometimes ( social ) visions and utopian ideas a role.

Early examples of such counter-cultures can be found in the traveling people like wandering artisans, vagabonds movement, Pietism and the early labor movement.

Also, some youth cultures of the 20th century are called counterculture. Examples are: migratory bird, the hippie movement, 68er movement, the Provo movement, new social movements. In the GDR of the 1970s - mid-1980s, the blues or customer scene. As a younger counter-culture in the Western world since the 1980s is some places the punk movement understood.