FASHION AND SOCIAL IDENTITY – ESSAY QUESTION: Image analysis in terms of social identity. Using a fashion related image of your choice, discuss how fashion is used to communicate social and cultural identities. (750 words)

FASHION AND SOCIAL IDENTITY – ESSAY QUESTION: Image analysis in terms of social identity. Using a fashion related image of your choice, discuss how fashion is used to communicate social and cultural identities. (750 words)

In Fred Davis? Fashion, Cultural and Identity (1992), he argues that fashion is used to communicate all sorts of aspects of social identity. Our gender, age, race, sexuality, political affiliations, class, occupation, as well as our individual personality and character, can all be evaluated and conveyed through the clothes that we wear. Fashion is, as Roland Barthes (1990) suggests, a language. It is a way of expressing and communicating our social identity and at the same time, as Goffman (1959) explains, it operates as a symbol or ?sign vehicle? for others to read and interpret.

If you think about the clothes that you buy and wear ? you can consider how they are used to create a particular image or impression of yourself for different audiences, at different times, in different places, and how your ideas about what is appropriate, what looks good or bad, what is tasteful or tacky, is influenced by the social and cultural context in which you live.

The aim of this section of the course then, is to explore how fashion is used to communicate social identities and how society works to influence our fashion practices and discourse

Assessment Task:
Image analysis in terms of social identity. Using a fashion related image of your choice, discuss how fashion is used to communicate social and cultural identities. (750 words)

Week 5: The Language of Clothes
In this first session we will explore the idea that fashion operates as a language, which communicates our social identity to others. We will discuss how fashion relates to social and cultural contexts, and how fashion can be used to create particular impressions or ?social fronts? in social spaces or for social audiences. In doing so, we?ll assess how fashion is used to evaluate and place individuals in terms of social structures and hierarchies and consider our own fashion practices and discourse.

Week 7: Fashion, Gender and Ethnicity
In this final session we will look more closely at how fashion is used to communicate gender and race. Using Butler?s notion of ?performativity? as well as the idea of performance, we will discuss how fashion is used to both construct and act out masculinity and femininity, and the distinctions which is made between appropriate femininity and sexuality. The lecture will then move on to look at distinctions in terms of race and ethnicity, exploring how fashion, and particularly fashion advertising, is used to construct and reinforce perceptions of race and ethnicity.