What is “Fashion” and How to Research it? Polybius for Punk Fashion Sociology
Keywords:Fashion, Globalization, Epistemology, Ontology, History
Fashion changes societies, and is also itself shaped by multiple socio-cultural processes, including processes of globalization. At the same time, fashion scholarship is not only speaking about and seeking to understand fashion, but is also actively formulating ideas, assumptions and understandings as to what fashion can be, and where in history and in which geographical locations fashion can be found.
This paper addresses the increasingly complex question of the nature of fashion in a globalized and increasingly interconnected world. Arguing for a radical, “punk,” attitude toward fashion scholarship, and a concomitant rethinking of fashion, we suggest an approach that goes beyond academic and political fashions, drawing upon historical scolarship and examples. For while it is strikingly obvious that fashion is a global and globalized phenomenon, its specific character, and indeed its geographical locations and origins, remain contested. Drawing inspiration from the ancient Greek historian Polybius, and his ideas of an "ecumenical analytical" approach to studying world-wide phenomena, we reflect upon the history and current state of fashion studies in what we consider an ecumenical moment, which demands novel insights, but also holds many new opportunities for the field.
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