Simmel_Apr20 - 1 SOCIOLOGY 313 Development of Sociological...

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Unformatted text preview: 1 SOCIOLOGY 313 Development of Sociological Theory Georg Simmel Key Points: ยก How does fashion work as a marker of social distinction, according to Simmel? ยก Simmel regards fashion as a perfect example of a social "form." What does he seem to mean by form, and how is it different from content? For instance, when he asserts that "[t]he only motivations with which fashion is concerned are formal social ones," what view of fashion is he trying to set up? 2 Fashion as a social form ยก According to Simmel, in each social relation there are two forces at work: one pushing us to bind ourselves to others through imitation, the other pushing us to unbind ourselves from others, to undo the social network, through distinction. Social life changes in so far as the balance between the socializing force and the de-socializing force is always unstable and provisional. ยก Fashion is an example of the way in which actual social life always includes in some way its own opposite, an asocial life. ยก For Simmel "... fashion represents nothing more than one of the many forms of life by the aid of which we seek to combine in uniform spheres of activity the tendency towards social equalization with the desire for individual differentiation and change." ยก So fashion also offers a model for a social dialectics between cohesion and fragmentation, which is typical of modern societies. ยก Fashion, the non-cumulative change in cultural features, derives, then, from a basic tension specific to the social condition of the human being: ยข On one hand, each of us has tendency to imitate others. ยข On the other, we also have a tendency to want to distinguish ourselves from others. ยก Undoubtedly, some of us tend more towards imitation (and thus to conformism) while others tend to distinction (and thus to eccentricity and dissidence), but fashion needs both of these contradictory tendencies in order to develop. ยก Fashion exists because, in conforming, we differentiate ourselves, and in differentiating ourselves, we are essentially conforming. ยก We can think of various sets of opposites whose dynamic relationship produces fashion: ยข Imitation vs. Distinction ยข Heredity vs. Individual Variation ยข Universality vs. Particularity ยข Submission vs. Sense of Power ยข Duration vs. Mutability ยข Femininity vs. Masculinity ยข Stillness vs. Movement ยข Receptivity vs. Productivity ยข Creation vs. DestructionCreation vs....
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This note was uploaded on 02/05/2012 for the course 920 313 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at Rutgers.

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Simmel_Apr20 - 1 SOCIOLOGY 313 Development of Sociological...

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