Identity and personal possessions (2)
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  • 1. In which ways can we express aspects of identity? Clothing – which clothes will we choose to express our: Gender Ethnicity Class Post-modernism Hair – length, colour, texture Gender – short hair on women? On men? Ethnicity – cover hair, cut it? Rebellion? Conformity and fashion? Tattoos and piercings – sign of the outcast? Working class? Unfeminine? Post-modern or tribal? Personal Possessions – how do women use their mobile phones – as security, as fashion accessory? How do men listen to music? Language – what is considered ladylike in terms of language? If you want to be seen as male what vocabulary should you use with mates?
  • 2. Identity and Personal Possessions
  • 3. What counts as personal possessions in Module 5?
    • Portable communication devices,eg:
    • personal stereo
    • mobile phone
    • laptop computer
  • 4. Ways of looking at Personal Possessions
    • How technological possessions express changes to traditional lifestyles
    • How technological possessions change communication styles and relationships between people in society
    • How technological possessions express and help construct personal identity.
  • 5. The Mobile Phone
    • How many of you own a mobile phone?
    • How did you choose your mobile phone?
    • Would boys choose the same phones as girls? If not why?
    • What criteria is important to which gender?
    • What do you think your phone says about
    • you?
    • Is your mobile phone part of your whole image or personal identity?
    • Does it fit in with your clothing choices, hairstyle etc?
  • 6. Research by Rich Ling on Teenagers and Mobile Phones
    • Name of the research paper is “It is ‘in.’ It doesn’t matter if you need it or not, just that you have it.”: Fashion and the domestication of the mobile telephone among teens in Norway”
    • Research looks at these key ideas:
    • Mobile phone not just a functional device - not just for communication
    • It is part of the presentation of self
    • It has a role as a type of fashion and also as a breach of fashion
  • 7. Initial Facts
    • 1997-99 Huge growth in ownership of mobiles amongst Norwegian teens e.g 13 year olds when from 6 to 51% ownership in 3 years.
    • More boys than girls owned two phones - techno fetishism
    • Ownership not to do with need but part of the individual's "personality kit"
  • 8. Fashion and Personal Identity
    • Fashion used in personal display - use of clothing as expression of personal intention or status.
    • Interaction between the individual and the viewer of the clothing or possession
    • Wearer of clothing makes a statement which is interpreted. The interpretation may be true to the intention of the wearer or clouded by bias of the viewer.
  • 9. Theorists on Clothing and Identity
    • Cunningham and Lab go on to note that clothing reflects one’s personality or group identity, i.e. gender, role, occupation, economic status and political beliefs. They note that identities vis-à-vis cultural rites such as marriage, graduation etc. are also reflected in one’s clothing.
    • It is through the active use of various props, costumes and artifacts that one announces to the world around them who they are and how they wish to be seen.
  • 10. Goffman and Simmel
    • Goffman who has pointed to this in his analysis of front and back region performances. The back region is where one arranges their dress and the various props that will be used in a particular presentation of self.
    • Key analysis of fashion done by Georg Simmel.
    • Two social tendencies - to belong to a group and to be individual - fashion does both.
    • Teens in particular, in searching for
    • their identity need to be like their peers
    • but mark their differences from others.
    • Adolescent culture needs to mark
    • boundaries between groups e.g punks,
    • athletes, gender based groups.
  • 11. Function of fashion
    • Displays, through fashion and possession, can be basis of inclusion and exclusion.
    • Exclusion caused by being late to acquire a fashionable accessory. Fashion is a balancing between these two. If one is too far in front or too far behind the popular taste then they are out of fashion.
    • Notion of anti – fashion – but that in itself is a reaction to fashion
    • With most fashion items, the visual aspect is their main function. However, the mobile telephone also has an audible dimension that can be incorporated into one’s display, indeed one need not even be physically present to indicate to others that they now own a mobile telephone.one can communicate and coordinate activities with others in the group
  • 12. Fashion and phones
    • Teenagers embarrassed by having a phone which is too large, too old fashioned or bought by a parent
    • The taste and style of one’s parents is not the same as that of the teens.
    • Feelings about phones had little to do with the use of the phone - functionality.
    • Elements that are particularly sought
    • after, age and the size of the mobile
    • telephone, the model number, the
    • façade, particular colors, the functions
    • of the handset and sometimes various
    • accessories such as pouches etc.
    • were common points of comment
  • 13. Research Findings
    • Comments from various interviews included the following:
    • Eskild (13): It is not fun to have the worst [mobile telephone] on the market you know.
    • Inger (17): I have a real ugly Bosch telephone . . . it’s so big and awkward.
    • Nina (18): It is . . . about how it looks and its size. Often it is the small cute mobile telephones that have the most status, at any rate that is how I experience it.
    • Teens have developed notions of how one should display a mobile telephone. The best strategy according to these teens is to have the telephone in your pocket or in your bag. additional decoration are an aspect of display. One informant, Nina (18) said: “I think that at any rate that it looks dumb when people have a lot of sunflowers or dinosaurs on their telephone. That is really childish.”
  • 14. Importance of peer group acceptance (with reference to mobile phones
    • Beyond the simple labeling of others as dumb or tacky, the use of the language enforces a type of group identity and the boundary between the in and the out groups.
    • Sullivan (1953) noted that the peer group is a necessary area for the development of the socialized adult. The peer group provides the adolescent with a relatively bounded situation where, none-the-less, they can exercise certain forms of control and also participate in group decision making among equals.
    • One’s peers provide self-esteem, reciprocal self-disclosure, emotional support, advice and information. They provide the ability for one to be vulnerable among equals, sensitive to the needs of others and generally, perhaps for the first time, to acquire insight into social interaction outside of the family.
  • 15. Importance of peer group acceptance (with reference to mobile phones) continued
    • These groups are largely protective of their members. They draw a symbolic boundary around themselves and resist the intrusion of others. This is seen in the development of what Fine calls idioculture and that may include a whole system of nicknames, jokes, styles of clothing, songs, artifacts etc (1987, 126). While there is support in the peer group, there is also teasing, gossip and infighting.
    • The peer culture’s influence is also somewhat selective. While it has profound influence on the selection of certain cultural items such as slang and clothing, parents and the adult world are influential in areas such as career choices (Brittian 1963).
    • One of the activities of the peer group is the informal establishment of codes of dress consumption patterns and in their orientation (Hogan 1985, 2). It may well be that there is a greater need for identification than for distinction within the adolescent peer group.