Follow the money.I often refer to them as 'kidults'. Naturally we form tribes, but there's something a little different about the hipsters, they may well constitute the first tribe ever with no filial loyalty. A tribe of narcissistic individuals for whom each member of their tribe is narcissus mirror.
When you consider the tribes that went before them the goths, the punks the rockers, they tended to have a cohesive philosophy. The hipsters have no greater appreciation of anything other then the self and good coffee. In that regard they are the ultimate expression of modern society, trivial and lacking any real depth or conviction, a sort of bland hegemonic corporate 'individualism' in which your identity is a consumer choice.
The "kidults" of today have extended their adolescence until their 30s because of the contraction in employment opportunities,..., internships...universities trying to make a buck by flogging them more and more Masters and largely useless higher qualifications...and the tendency of their parents' boomer generation to refuse to get off the stage combined with over-managing their adult kids' lives, thus infantalising them somewhat...
The mods and rockers of the 50s early 60s were a result of the post war boom, kids having time on their hands,...free education in Art Colleges with little stress on academic work...the abolition of military service and the old authoritarian class-driven certainties...the invention of the "teenager" as a consumer demographic
The American post-war consumer boom also needed to invent a demographic willing to spend all that money floating around...teenage rock n roll, teenage rebellion was largely a consumer event
Likewise the hippies with their back-to-nature style, tune-in-drop-out mantra--which was an indulgence that the wealthy 1960s could afford..
Their political posing was just that.....they went on to become the yuppies and CEOs of the 80s in Reagan's America, where their individualistic self-centeredness fitted in perfectly.
The punks were in part a reflection of the new realities in recession-hit late seventies Britain plagued by galloping inflation. But they grew up too and joined the consumer society
Our society allows (some of us) to re-invent ourselves for a few years, and to buy ourselves a new lifestyle and image when we're young and in search of an identity
We join a tribe because youth in its search for identity is tribal
Corporations sell us stuff because they like clear, self-identifying demographics
That's basically all it is, or ever was. Its politics and ideology are not serious
It's a harmless and colourful way-station on that road to the rather grey and grim routine of adulthood