Hippie vs Hipster: Dissecting the Differences of Two Misunderstood Populations

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When the term hipster fist started circulating, some people thought it was some variation of the word “hippie.” Though these words may share the same etymological root, hipsters and hippies are two separate things entirely. Hippies and hipsters do have certain similarities, but the differences between these two misunderstood populations undoubtedly outweigh what they have in common.I f you’re searching for an analysis of the differences in hippie vs hipster, we’re here to help.

What Are Hippies and Hipsters?

Generally speaking, those who identify as hippies and hipsters belong to different subcultures that have their roots in the western world. There are obviously stereotypes of each one; however, both groups host individuals of many shades and stripes. Likewise, depending on where you’re living, the hippies and hipsters you encounter may be of a different variety than those in another locale. There is no universal answer to what constitutes a hippie or a hipster; though they generally share a lot of ideas and traits with other members of their group, no two hippies or hipsters are exactly the same.


The countercultural movement that gave birth the hippies started in the 1960s. It was very much intertwined with the free love movement and the civil rights movement. The hippie movement in particular stressed rebellion to the status quo; though kids have been rebelling against their parents since the dawn of time, the disconnect between generations and the rebellion of young people was arguably stronger in this period. Judeo-Christian values were largely forsaken in favor of an ultra-permissive worldview in which anything goes as long as you’re not harming another human being with your actions.

This led to a lot of experimentation, particularly with drugs and sex. New genres of music even started because of the movement, as things like psychedelic rock (a la Jimi Hendrix) came into being. Cultural icons such as Timothy Leary and Kevin Kesey promoted the use of hallucinogens like LSD. Protesting became extremely popular, especially against wars on foreign soil. Though the movement started long ago, there are plenty of hippies keeping the dream alive and spreading their message of love and tolerance to the next generation. Being a hippie is not just about a certain aesthetic.


The birth of the hipster subculture is a very recent phenomenon. Though there have been those throughout history that perfectly embody the hipster mindset, it wasn’t until the past few years that you started to see people being called “hipsters” because of certain attitudes, aesthetic, and beliefs they shared. Though not relegated to a particular age group, hipsters are typically in their twenties, and your best bet for finding one is on a college campus. They emphasize originality and are often stereotyped as a certain brand of art snobs that hate everything mainstream.

Regarding their aesthetics, hipsters often try to dress in an old fashioned manor, although some who are classified as hipsters try to emit a different kind of vibe, wearing skinny jeans, nose rings, and ear gauges. They like just about anything indie, from music to movies. Most of them have a love for artistic treasures they believe have been passed up by popular culture, and the are stereotyped as know-it-alls when it comes to such things. To put it plainly, the hipster point-of-view is that, instead of letting the cultural engineers of our age determine what’s cool, you should find and champion those things for yourself.

Hippie vs Hipster: The Similarities

Though it can obviously be seen from a cursory read of their definitions that hippies and hipsters are totally different, that doesn’t mean that they don’t share some common ground. Though the birth of these subcultures is separated by half a century or more, there are some very interesting similarities between those who belong to these groups worthy of analysis.

Rejecting the Status Quo

One of the things that’s at the very heart of both of these subcultures is the rejection of the status quo. Hippies insisted on being able to think for themselves, to reject the beliefs and politics of previous generations, to dress in ways that bothered and infuriated the older crowd, and to ultimately wage a never-ending war against the very concept of “normal.” It can be argued that they started a non-violent revolution that forever altered the history of the United States and even the world. Because of the hippie movement, things will never be the same; they changed the very values of America permanently.

Though not quite as political and revolutionary, hipsters are also all about going against the status quo. They believe that books, movies, music, and other products become mainstream through the result of good marketing instead of good craftsmanship. They’re not going to let the world decide for them what’s valuable when it comes to art, fashion, and other areas; they’ll make that determination on their own. Many of them also wear things that infuriate and confuse the older crowd. So while they may not end up producing anywhere near the lasting impact that hippies had, they’re still all about rejecting the status quo.

A Specific Aesthetic

Both groups also have an aesthetic and culture that is specific to them. For instance, hippies are known for tie-dye shirts and bandanas, wearing jeans with holes in them, and going around in flip-flops. They’re also known for letting their hair grow out; that means men with beards and women who reject what society tells them is feminine by not shaving their legs and wearing jewelry made from hemp. While this may be the classical stereotype, this aesthetic hasn’t lost its popularity with modern hippies. In the end, though, being a hippie is more about belief than what you wear.

Likewise, hipsters often wear old fashioned clothing that hearkens back to the first half of the twentieth century. They’re known for frequenting cafes and doing yoga. The stereotype of being addicted to social media sites like Tumblr and Instagram also holds true for many. Just as you might label someone a hippie because of what they’re wearing and where they’re at, you can do the same for a hipster. Your assumption may be inaccurate upon further investigation, but it nonetheless proves that each has a specific aesthetic.

Political Leanings and Drug Use

Hippies are mostly known for believing in the concept of “free love,” advancing civil rights, and being anti war. This also holds true for hipsters, with most of them having liberal mindsets about the very same things. When it comes to drug use, hippies were known for extensive experimentation with all types of drugs, although they’re mostly known for their love of psychedelics (things like marijuana, mushrooms, and LSD). Some hipsters are also known to experiment with the same things, with some perhaps having the mindset that it makes them different and original. They’re more known for liking craft beer and vaping than illicit drugs, however.

Hippie vs Hipster: The Difference

Though some differences between these two subcultures have already made themselves apparent in analyzing their similarities, there are still some major differences that should be discussed about hippie vs hipster.

Their Attitudes

Both subcultures generally encourage you to be yourself. However, this attitude is perhaps better maintained by hippies. Hippies are very much associated with certain musical genres, but they’re less likely to judge you if you have different tastes in art. Hipsters, on the other hand, while celebrating originality, tend to reject mainstream art to such a degree that they may very well judge you for falling for the “marketing schemes of popular culture.” In other words, hippies are more known for being inclusive, where hipsters may be exclusive.

That being said, this generality does not hold true for every hippie and hipster. Everyone has the potential to either be accepting of others’ differences or judge-y towards them.

Their Scenes

You might meet up with hipsters at your local cafe; however, you might meet up with some hippies at a music festival. Their scenes are very much different, although they do overlap to some extent.

Their Tastes

Hippies are known for being big jam band advocates, loving groups like The Grateful Dead, Phish, and The Allman Brothers. Trippy sound effects and seventeen minute guitar solos are their thing. However, hipsters probably regard even these bands as too mainstream and listen to groups from any number of genres, although they tend to be indie artists that are not widely circulated. The same goes for their consumption of other art forms.

Their Values

Hipsters are more likely to believe in the power of the digital world, whereas hippies are all about mother Earth and nature. Hippies were also once known for innovating with new fashion styles and music, whereas hipsters are into bringing back old-time fashions and tweaking with older genres. This progression vs regression issue is perhaps one of the biggest divides in hippie vs hipster.


Though both subcultures have their negative stereotypes, hippies and hipsters are both champions of originality. However, it’s important to remember that while they do share many similarities, they are undoubtedly two very different things. Both are rebels who reject the status quo and have very specific aesthetics. However, there are clear divides in their attitudes, scenes, tastes, and values. So if you’re wondering about hippie vs hipster, these key differences should help you differentiate with ease between these two misunderstood populations.

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