The Fashion – Edward Sapir

What is fashion? Why do people follow fashion?
fashionable? Edward Sapir, anthropologist, answers these questions by studying the
links between culture
and fashion. Here are 10 characteristics of fashion identified by Edward Sapir in
his book Anthropology.

1. Fashion is imposed on subjects

A fashion differs from a taste because it implies a constraint on the part of the group
without the individual having the choice between possibilities.

Edward Sapir
(1921), Anthropology. Volume 1: culture and personality

2. The fashion distinguishes itself from the infatuation which can be disapproved by the

It is different from the fads, which are objectively of the same order
but have a more personal turn and never go without incurring a more or less
more or less latent disapproval on the part of society.

Edward Sapir
(1921), Anthropology. Volume 1: culture and personality

3. The fashion draws its force from the customs

If the fashion, by weakening, leads to the fads, it draws its force from
the custom. The customs, contrary to the modes, are models of behavior
behavioral patterns with a relative permanence.

Edward Sapir
(1921), Anthropology. Volume 1: culture and personality

4. The fashion is perceived differently according to the social classes

According to the individuals and the social classes, the fashion will be caprice consecrated
by the society or new and unintelligible form of social tyranny.

Edward Sapir
(1921), Anthropology. Volume 1: culture and personality

5. By the fashion the man seeks to affirm my existence

The latent desire to free himself from the constraints of an existence too well
the incessant desire to add to his personal attractiveness and to do everything
to do everything to attract love and friendship. It is in the societies
highly differentiated societies that the self is at each moment convinced
of impotence. Unknown to him, the individual withdraws on himself and, without
to affirm the reality of its existence.

Edward Sapir
(1921), Anthropology. Volume 1 : culture and personality

6. The man also seeks the prestige and the notoriety by the fashion

In addition to the desire to affirm its unconscious personality, the changes of
fashion satisfy the more common desire to acquire prestige and notoriety.
Then the fashion becomes the emblem of a singular distinction, or of
belonging to a prestigious group.

Edward Sapir
(1921), Anthropology. Volume 1: culture and personality

7. Fashion is fundamentally linked to the historical dimension

Fashion is par excellence a historical concept. A particular fashion
is absolutely incomprehensible if one extracts it from the place it occupies
in a series of conventions.

Edward Sapir
(1921), Anthropology. Volume 1: culture and personality

8. The fashion puts itself in the service of the culture and the ideology of this

The fluctuations of the fashion depend on the cultural climate and the ideal
social ideal that inspires it. Under the quiet surface of the culture are always hidden
always hide powerful psychological groundswells, of which the fashion is
immediately the toy. If a democratic society is secretly swept by a current of social
current of social discrimination, the fashion will make a game to lend him thousand

Edward Sapir
(1921), Anthropology. Volume 1: culture and personality

9. Customary cultures are less subject to fashion

The very customary cultures, like the primitive ones, do not know
the frequent reversals which we attend; the style evolves there gradually and its
progressively and its march is irreversible. These societies value the
group and sanctify the tradition, to the detriment of the individual expression
which remains entirely unconscious. In the great civilizations of
the East, in the ancient and medieval Europe, one notes that the fluctuations of the fashion
fluctuations of the mode propagate around certain hearths of high culture
culture; but it is necessary to wait for modern Europe so that the familiar carrousel
the familiar carousel, with its procession of seasonal mutations.
The acceleration of the rhythm of fashion is due to the influence of the Renaissance;
it is it which gave the thirst of the novelty and which multiplied the choices
offered to European society.

Edward Sapir
(1921), Anthropology. Volume 1: culture and personality

10. The fashion gains all the social classes and more and more

Currently, fashion is winning all social classes. Fashion has always been
always been a symbol of belonging to a class, and men have always
men have always looked up to the classes above them, so it is not only today that
that the lower groups imitate the fashions that come from above
from above. Nevertheless, these borrowings remained prudent, because one attached great
value was attached to social compartmentalization.

Edward Sapir
(1921), Anthropology. Volume 1: culture and personality

individual and society – Edward Sapir

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