10.09 Lecture Notes - Fads and Fashion.docx

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Course Code
SOC 148
Rob Beamish

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10/09/2013 FADS AND FASHION A sociology of fads and fashion? Surprisingly, perhaps, the study of fads and fashion has a long tradition in sociology; all views we will cover today see them as indicative of contemporary society – “mass,” “class” or “post-(what-have-you)”… It’s indicative of many things Social status and wealth, one of them Collective Behavior Model Indicative of not knowing who one is (we don’t now where we fit in) Collective action Model sees fads and fashion as seeing reason and purpose in a mass, class-based society one has to make sure that everyone knows what class they are in Keeping up with the Joneses Do that by consumption FASHION Fashion denotes collectively identified status items that are relatively enduring; they can last for months, years, sometimes (rarely) a decade… Reification (what does it mean? Know what it really means; able to recite if someone asks you) Who do you think you are? You buy it because you feel like it connects to who you think you are Why is it a collective episodes? It’s valuable because it’s collectively identified as such Recognized as such – wouldn’t be collective behavior if it weren’t People know that they have a value They have to have some status Fashion industry is production-driven Trying to make things that are collectively recognized FADS Fads can be either items or activities that briefly hold collective value; fads are more inclusive, ephemeral, unpredictable, and trivial than is fashion More hard to remember/ recall Have to be of collective value too or they’re of no consequence Ex: CD radio, single speed bikes, novelty items (ex: during Christmas time, parents go crazy over a single child’s gift that is the fad), activities (such as flash mobs, etc.) FADS AND FASHIONS are distinct, but they’re important enough that they can be held in the same light Both are collective expressions Only collective if people see them as valuable by the collective They serve participants a similar function Follow a similar life cycle Both are ephemeral, highly visible WE WILL CONCENTRATE ON 3 VIEWS OF FADS/FASHIONS: 1. Natural History of Fads/Fashions Why? – a theory question Why do you look back on them and think they’re totally stupid? 2. A Collective Action View of Fads/Fashions 3. A Collective Behavioral View of Fads/Fashions LIFE CYCLE OF FASHION AND FADS The Natural History behind fads and fashion? You can break it down into different periods, because it’s a collective act Life Cycle Curve 1. Latent period = the latent period is characterized by a limited number of persons being involved in what will be the basis of the fad/fashion… 2. Breakout Period = the breakout period is characterized by out-group persons – those outside the original constituency – adopting the item or behavior… considered the folks who discovered it the 1 people who started rocking it 3. Peaking Period = fad/ fashion dynamics are closely related to media dynamics; peaking begins when the mass media acknowledge and name the fad/fashion and mass diffusion begins where the products are being sold because it has value to other people that have value to us, we want to start doing what they’re doing bandwagon effect people start referring it in songs, reference to it becomes a colloquialisms, people start utilizing references to it everyone becomes familiar with it (aside from older people) late adopter = somebody who generally doesn’t try new things in a certain arena 4. Decline Period = a theoretical saturation point is reached – no new converts are to be found and the fad and or fashion is no longer a novelty but a know or “normal” item in daily life it no longer delivers the collective payoff that it once delivered A natural history view – natural history approach focuses mainly on product fads and doesn’t say much of anything about… 1. The Specific things collectives pursue 2. Why collectives pursue them 3. Why their appeal dissipates so quickly Why do they lost their potential? Because they’re not doing anything for us anymore… Got us to ask why, but not answer it. FASHION AS COLLECTIVE ACTION G. Simmel Simmel saw fashion as a way of l
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