Miller, K.A. and S.A. Hunt. 1997. “Cultures, Identities, and Dress: A Renewed Sociological Interest.”


Miller, Kimberly A. and Scott A. Hunt. 1997. “Cultures, Identities, and Dress: A Renewed Sociological Interest.” Sociological Inquiry 67(3): 320-322.

Though the sociology of dress has been a historically critical one (with such authors as Simmel, Blumer, Goffman, and Stone) writing on it – contemporary review of dress is usually performed outside of the field of sociology.


The contemporary study of dress was revitalized under sociological and psychological review – discussing identity, social psychology, anthropology, semiotics, cognition, emotion, gender, literary analysis — as well as implications for both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.


From Blumer’s (1969) assertions to study dress, he also discusses three common impediments to its analysis: 1) the perception that dress is restricted to the personal and individualized presentation of self — (authors believe that this is far too much in the realm of psychology – though some degree of social psychology is necessary to understand dress and self —- dress is much more than this); 2) dress is trivial; and, 3) dress is non-rational (here, discussed on 320).


Quick review — the ways we “talk” about dress is just as important as the actual dressing itself (see also Hunt and Miller 1997):

  • Michelman: studies Roman Catholic women’s habit as a form of representing “institutional arrangements and social change dynamics” (321)
  • Arthur: sorority women’s dress – “dress is key to understanding collective norms and the processes of organizational commitment” (321)
  • O’Neal: “clothes to kill for” – “dress can consist of powerful symbolic claims linked to collective violence and social problems construction” (321)
  • Freitas et al: study of least favorite clothing items: “illuminates ambivalent social identities available in a culture and how the intersections of these identities come to form master statuses” (321).



Blumer, Herbert. 1969. “Fashion: From Class Differentiation to Collective Selection.” Sociological Quarterly 10: 275-291.

Hunt, Scott A. and Kimberly A. Miller. 1997. “The Discourse of Dress and Appearance: Identity Talk and a Rhetoric of Review.” Symbolic Interaction 20: 69-82.

See also:

Lennon, S.J. and L.D. Burns, eds. 1993. “Social Science Aspects of Dress: New Directions.” ITAA Special Publication #5. Monument, CO: International Textile and Apparel Association, Inc.

No Cites?




Freitas et al


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