This new column will be a bi-weekly summary of happenings linking dress and dissent, fashion and crime, and perceptions (fact or fiction) of deviance as related to appearance. From the West Memphis Three‘s recent release from prison to the Juggalos being watched by the FBI to the average middle school student suspended for a particular haircut I want to look into issues linking clothing and conviction—lame pun intended.
From 2002-4 when I was working on my Master’s degree I began a thesis regrading the relationship of dress to criminality. I performed literature reviews on street gangs, neo-nazi’s, various aspects of subculture, and took classes on those subjects. However it was simply too vast of a topic for the short span of time that is spent on an MS degree thesis, and so I back-burneed it for another topic.
Now that it’s been a few years since completing my PhD, and my book, Punk Style is pretty much all wrapped up and being published later this year, I’m ready to refocus on energies in other directions, including coming back to former projects.
In all of the publishing/presenting I’ve recently done about subcultural style, black leather jackets, punk style, etc in journals, books, and conferences I kept being reminded about ideas of perceptions of outsiders as deviants and how the wearer’s use clothing and even use those perceptions as part of identity building and expression.
So, I plan to spend the next period of time gathering all of the information that I can find on the subject as a running lit review and bring it to you in a bi-weekly snapshot. Feel free to send me interesting tidbits you come across as well. Through that on-going process I hope to do some grounded research zeroing in on contemporary running themes and areas that would benefit from further exploration and primary studies.
A few links to things that recently got my attention on this topic:
Undressing Cinema: Clothing and Identity in the Movies is a book that has chapters on gangsters among others.
A HuffPo column consolidated some of the current writings on the famously clown-faced (among other goth, metal and hip hop inspired styles) Juggalos and discussed the FBI labeling as a gang vs. fans of a music act/subcultural lifestyle.
Trayvon Martin‘s family settled this week regrading the wrongful death suit and the home owner’s association which brings that case back to forefront of the news with the issues of race, youth dress, urban styles, and especially hooded sweatshirts. This last link is to a series of images regarding the sweatshirt controversy that emerged.