The sociology of fashion and clothing – a reading

Approaches to material culture:

The sociology of fashion and clothing

By Diana Crane (Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, Paris, France) and Laura Bovone (Centre for the Study of Fashion and Cultural Production, Milan, Italy)

This article is from the wonderful Scientific Journal, “Poetics– A journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the MEdia and the Arts“. It deals with Material Culture and more specifically how we are linked to clothing and fashion.


This article proposes a framework for studying material culture, such as fashionable clothing, based on an analysis of the processes that lead to the creation and attribution of symbolic value. Five types of analyses are outlined: (1) analyses of material culture as a type of text that expresses symbols and contributes to discourses and to cultural repertoires; (2) analyses of systems of cultural production in which symbolic values are attributed to material culture through the collective activities of members of culture worlds; (3) analyses of the communication of symbolic values associated with items of material culture and the processes whereby these meanings are disseminated to consumers through the media; (4) analyses of the attribution of symbolic values to material culture by consumers and of their responses to symbolic values attributed to material culture by producers of material culture or in other ways; (5) cross-national studies of symbolic values expressed in material goods and of the systems that produce them in order to reveal differences in the types of symbolic values attributed to material culture in different countries and regions. An analysis of cultural, social, and organizational influences on the production of fashionable clothing in Italy introduces three articles in this issue on this theme.

Read the article here

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