Also known as the Great Goth Debate, it's basically asking what defines the subculture. It's quite infamous among Goths, it has the ability to create arguments and before you know it someone has called another Goth "Poseur".
I think there's certain factors that should leave our debate, for example non Goths and money. Money shouldn't define our subculture, for example yes you spend more on clothes than you do downloading music but it's actually about passion. Money has enough power as it is. Non-goths aren't Goth and generally don't have knowledge of the subculture, just because one occasionally yells "GOOFF" at someone in black doesn't mean they understand.
Is it music?
Without the Goth music genre the subculture may not even exist, I think it would eventually piece together but not as quickly and it wouldn't be the same. Also, it needs to be pointed out that you don't just listen to Goth music otherwise there's plenty of unsuspecting "goths" walking around. You have to actually like, enjoy and be passionate about the music. Goth music has the power to lift and even lower my mood, it creates stories and my imagination flows when I listen. We dress up for concerts and interact with other Goths there, it basically brought us all together in the beginning and still does today. We do spent less time downloading music than creating a Goth wardrobe but I'm unsure whether time should be a factor in defining our subculture either. Less time spent doesn't necessarily equal less passion?
Is it fashion?
As you don't just listen to Goth music, you don't just simply pull on black clothes and fishnets. The fashion is a major part of my life, I spend hours customising my new pieces and browsing vintage shops for that perfect jacket. So yes it's true that collecting a Goth wardrobe takes more time and money but again I'd rather focus on my passion for it. I spent lots of time on my gothic clothes because they mean something to me and I want them to reflect my effort. However the fashion also has an interesting way of bringing us all together as the music does, before a night out I spend hours with my friends getting ready and changing outfits. The way we dress is a massive visual clue to others that we're Goths, although I have yet to meet another Goth in the streets I'm betting it's the way I dress that would attract them (unless they've got bat like hearing and can tune into my iPod) if I did.
Could something else be the driving force? Such as an attitude?
There's several reasons why attitude doesn't define the subculture in my opinion, one being that the subculture is far more than an attitude. Another is because I refuse to believe it's possible for a whole subculture of people to think alike and behave the same. Although we do have common interests and plenty of hobbies that are associated with the subculture. This is the only "definition" of Goth I get quite hot under the collar about, when a person insists the subculture is an attitude it feels like they're suggesting I should behave a certain way. We're all individuals that have come together because of our love for the music, fashion and common interests not because we behave alike.
There was no "internal feeling" to tell me I was Goth either, I simply learnt about the subculture and realised that based on my music taste and dress sense that I was. Perhaps it's because I'm so unemotional towards this matter that I find it difficult to undertstand people think it's an outlook on life. Personally I think it's a bit of music and fashion, a subculture doesn't have to be defined by only one thing.
Feel free to share your own opinion!