- Read the papers.
- The Simmel and Veblen readings are both classics of sociology; they are the first theoretical discussions of fashion and quite influential.
- Rogers work is about the diffusion of innovation - it is the complement to "fashion".
- Thornton's book on Club Culture, which focuses on fashion in
music, deals the most directly with fashion as knowledge, as a
way of showing who has access to information, and how this
knowledged is controlled and disseminated.
- Suzuki and Best look at extreme fashions in Japan - their work is a close look at the question of where do new fashion ideas come from.
- Davis and McCracken are contemporary socio/anthro approaches to fashion. They are useful for thinking about fashion in a cultural context. I have included these as optional readings but you should at least skim them.
- Adar et al on blogs is a very interesting look at exactly how fashions spread in an online space.
- Coelho and Pessendorfer are contemporary economic discussions of fashion which also use (slightly different) signaling model. Both, I think, are flawed by conflating a number of different functions as fashion (Pessendorfer, for instance, conflates fashion with luxury good). But they do represent the economic approach.
- I have also included the Huberman et al paper on status,
because ideas about status are fundamental to thinking about
- Answer these questions:
- How does fashion function as a signal? What does
it indicate? What are the costs and benfits associated with it? Is
it reliable? Why or why not? what is the function
of continuous change? How does Veblen's view of fashion fit with a
signaling model of fashion?
- What is the signaling value of anti-utility - e.g. dissonant music, high heels, etc.?
- There are fashions in many domains: clothing,
slang, blogs, research topics, music, etc. The medium in which the fashion signal
is embedded affects how quickly it spreads, how easily old signals
are discarded, what social hierarchy/affiliation it indicates,
etc. Looking at blogs (from the Adar paper and your own
observations), music (from Thornton and your observations), clothing
(from Davis, Suzuki, and your observations) and one other domain of
your choosing, describe how fashion signals function in each
domain, discussing the common features and differences between
them. What are the features of the medium that affect fashions
within it? Are changes arbitrary or are they driven by other forces
in addition to fashion? How does that affect how we interpret it
as a signal?
your essays by Monday midday.