Sociological studies of fashion relate the studies of fashion to two central sociological themes: social control and social change. Sociologists who have dealt with fashion as a mechanism of social control have focused their attention on the relationship between fashion and custom. People may follow fashion not just to imitate their social superiors, they also want to be "in fashion" capturing the mood of the times.
Fashion as a mode of social control can be structured around 3 issues:
1) Relationship between fashion and social stratification: does fashion mirror the social structure or does it represent an equalising force? is fashion an exculsionary discourse originated by the mainstream Úlite, or does it give voice to marginalised discourses?
2) Functions, ideological meanings, and rationale of the uniform in general, school uniform in particular. (this section will involve a group research project that would provide illustration of ideological critique through critical discourse analysis).
3) Body alterations (tattoo, piercing and cosmetic surgery): is it a discourse of empowerment and control over one's body, or is it locked into the terms of reference of patriarchal ideology.
To what extent fashion is oriented towards innovation (move from custom) and to what extent it is a mechanism of convention?
Fashion and Stratification
Trickle down theory or conspicuous consumption theory regard differentiation and stratification as essential preconditions of fashion. Smelser and Blumer regard fashion as an expression of collective behaviour.
Trickle-down effect or phenomenon occurs when the lower social classes adopt a fashion. When fashion trickles down and are no longer exclusive, it will no longer be desirable to the higher social classes.
Fashion culture theorists like Davis point out that not only do fashions fail to trickle down, but often the inspiration for new fashions start from the street.
Fashion culture theorists like Crane argue that consumer society replaced class with "lifestyle groups".
Fashion culture theorists like Bourdieu and Baudrillard see social hierarchy reflected in subtle practices of education and consumption that underlie apparent social change.
Some Wore Bobby Sox : The Emergence of Teenage
Girls' Culture, 1920-1945 (Girls' History and Culture) Book by Kelly Schrum
Nothing in Itself: Complexions of Fashion
(Theories of Contemporary Culture) by Blau Herbert
Fashion Cultures: Theories, Explorations, and
A Matter of Taste : How Names, Fashions, and
Culture Change - Book by Stanley Lieberson
Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of
Fashion, Culture, and Identity
Social Communication in Advertising: Persons,
Products and Images of Well-Being
Consumers and Luxury : Consumer Culture in Europe
Beauty and Business: Commerce, Gender, and
Culture in Modern America (Hagley Perspectives on Business and Culture) - Book by
Philip Scranton (Editor)
In the Culture Society: Art, Fashion Culture and
The case of uniforms
Clothing styles are carriers of a wide range of ideological agendas. For centuries uniforms have been used to impose social identities on more or less willing subjects. This form of social control was increasingly evident in the nineteenth century through the imposition of uniforms and dress codes.
Crane, Diane (2000). Fashion and its social agendas: class gender and identity in clothing. Chicago University Press.
Simmel, Georg (1904/1957). Fashion. International Quarterly, 10, 130-155. Reprinted in American Journal of Sociology, 62, 541-558.
Blumer, Herbert (1969). Fashion: From class differentiation to collective selection. Sociological Quarterly, 10, 275-291.
Horowitz, Tamar (1975). From Úlite fashion to mass fashion. Archives Europeenes de Sociologie, 16, 283-295.
McRobbie, Angela (1989) Second-hand dresses and the role of the ragmarket. In A. McRobbie (ed.) Zoot suits and second hand dresses: An anthology of fashion and music. London: Macmillan.
Crane, Diane (1999). Clothing behaviour as non-verbal resistance: Marginal women and alternative dress in the nineteenth century. Fashion Theory, 3, 241-268.
Walsh, Margaret (1979). The democratization of fashion: The emergence of the women's dress pattern industry. Journal of American History, 66, 299-313.
Crane, Diane (2000). Fashion and its social agendas: class, gender, and identity in clothing. University of Chicago Press. (pp 87-95).
Maynard, Margaret (1995). Fashioned from penury: Dress as cultural practice in colonial Australia. Cambridge UP.
McVeigh, Brian (1997). Wearing ideology: how uniforms discipline minds and bodies in Japan. Fashion Theory, 1, 189-213.
Books On Fashion Culture
Clothing Art: The Visual Culture of Fashion 1600-1914
The Fabric of Cultures: Fashion, Identity, Globalization
Fashion Theory Volume 12 Issue 3: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture (Fashion Theory) by Valerie Steele
The Warhol Economy: How Fashion, Art, and Music Drive New York City (New Edition) by Elizabeth Currid
Fashion Brands: Branding Style from Armani to Zara by Mark Tungate
Glamour: A History by Stephen Gundle
Paris-New York: Design Fashion Culture 1925-1940 by Donald Albrecht
Fashion Game Book: A World History of 20th-century Fashion by Florence Muller
100 New Fashion Designers by Hywel Davies
The fashion industry has always celebrated innovative
design and young talented fashion designers can make a huge impact as they explore new
ideas and push boundaries.