This fall I’ll be working at Monmouth University as a visiting professor. I’m super excited about this opportunity, even as I’m already missing teaching CUNY and SUNY students. Please stay in touch via email, twitter, or here!
For new students, a few words about why this blog is titled “fashioning sociology.” First, I taught sociology and anthropology courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology for a little over 6 years. To help fashion students see all the connections between their studies and sociology, I organized my courses to focus on the social forces that shape the fashion industry as well as our own personal sense of fashion. When we start to consider what we wear each day, what we feel good in, or what looks “off” to us, we can see how our personal experiences are shaped by larger social forces. And we can also see how we push back against social patterns and traditions. Think about how radical it used to be for women to wear pants! Or how men have never gotten into wearing skirts…
Secondly, part of my dissertation research focused on fashion studies. Fashion studies is an interdisciplinary field that looks at fashion as an artifact, a cultural system, a language, a system of labor, a cultural history…the list goes on! I began my research on the economy of tee shirts–both as cultural symbols and as a way to engage in affective labor. My dissertation ended up being on digital labor, and on blogs specifically, but it started with tee shirts, flea markets, and second hand clothing.
Finally, I realized that sociology as a discipline is deeply implicated with fashion as we know it. Or, another way to say that is sociology and the fashion industry started at the same time. Sociology emerged to answer questions about life under a new technological world–industrialization–and all the massive cultural and social changes it brought. For example, the first factories were textile mills.With mass production came the need for mass consumption (i.e., shopping). Gender roles changed with wage labor (as people moved from farms to cities in search of work). Further, many of our most important sociological theories focus on fashion: Karl Marx in Capital, vol 1, uses the example of a coat to explain commodities, labor, and value. George Simmel explained the sense of self under modernity through the example of fashion; or the fine line between standing out, but not so much as to look so-called crazy. Through fashioning our appearances, we walk the fine, and ever-shifting line of “fitting-in”
While sociology began with the rise of industrialization, the emergence of globalization and digital technologies are currently rearranging our everyday lives. My work and teaching considers how we can re-fashion sociology to account for the global shifts that have taken place since sociology began with industrialization. This blog is a place for me to post ideas about how we can fashion sociology to better understand our lives today. I’m looking forward to working on this with all of you.