This weekend I got invited to go to PBR (Professional Bull Riders) which is a rodeo that comes to the city once a year, and because I’ve lived here almost all my life I know that a lot of people in the area get quite excited about it. (Probably due to the fact that we are a city surrounded by field after field of farmers and ranchers..) And the one thing there is no shortage of, is western wear. Belt buckles, cowboy boots, hats, you name it, it doesn’t matter if you’re a real cowboy or not, almost everyone is embellished head to toe in plaid and denim. I can be the first to admit that I’ve never lived on a farm (we still have a few in the family) but I feel like it’s socially acceptable to “dress up” as and have some fun a community and in my opinion, it shows a form of solidarity and pride of our city that has a small town mentality.
In this week’s blog I want to explore why we choose what we wear in any aspect of life and how it contributes to social interaction. In the article I found, the authors talk about a few perspectives on why an individual would present themselves in a certain way, the first talks about the diffusion perspective. In the context of institutional theory it portrays how agents import “ready-to-wear” cultural accounts. In contrast, translation theory depicts how agents interpret and adapt cultural accounts as they fashion them into legitimating accounts for a local setting. These theories would be pertinent to the work place. For example, the policies or dress codes that are put in place and the hegemony that occurs between the institution and its employees. An alternative could theorize accounts that are neither strictly borrowed nor idiosyncratically tailored. The third perspective, draws on frame analysis as it is used in social movement theory. Framing theory attends to both the importance of cultural building blocks and the embedded ways in which agents relate to and shape systems of meaning, and mobilize collective action to change social arrangements. This would be applicable to the situation I explained earlier with the pride of adorning western wear but could also apply to scenarios of demonstration or protest. The authors found that legitimating accounts are intertwined with the construction of one’s social identities and without opposition there would be no legitimization at all (1).
Clothing can either help us conform to a group, or instead, make a statement that’s completely individual. It helps us present ourselves in a way we want to be seen but can also be controlled by many outside factors like what one is “expected” to wear to a certain occasion or something innate like dressing a certain way to catch the eye of that cute person you always see on the way to lecture. One could get more specific and start the conversation of tattoos and piercings, but I think that’s something I can get deeper into in their own blog post. Regardless of the reasons why we wear what we wear, it definitely seems like it will always have some kind of meaning within every culture or society.
(1) Creed, W. E., Scully, M. A., & Austin, J. R. (2002). Clothes Make the Person? The Tailoring of Legitimating Accounts and the Social Construction of Identity. Organization Science, 13(5), 475-496. doi:10.1287/orsc.13.5.475.7814
(Feature Image) Models On The Runway [Photograph found in WordPress]. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2017, from https://qzprod.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/ap596279204243-cropped.jpg?quality=80&strip=all