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fashion with more micro-level work. Of course

there are conversations between the two, but

there is also a tension between the more finely

tuned, nuanced work of those engaged in more

empirical work, and those who are seeking to

develop broader theories about how family life

is changing. There has been a revival in sociological

interest in families at the macro level

which has not been apparent since the decline

of the functionalist perspective (if one treats the

feminist interventions as slightly separate since

they did not emerge from mainstream sociology).

Social theorists who have typically dealt

with traditionally conceived big themes (such as

capitalism or modernity) have turned their interest

towards families. Most notable here is the

work of Beck and Beck-Gernsheim (Individualisation,

2002, The Normal Chaos of Love) who have

returned to the perennial theme of social change

and families. As part of their overall thesis on

the rise of individualization in modern societies,

they depict the family as a site of fragmentation

and of constant (exhausting) balancing and

negotiation. They argue, “Family life no longer

happens in one place but is scattered between

several different locations . . . The lives of individual

family members, with their different rhythms,

locations and demands, only rarely fit together


They depict a tension between individual life

projects and the collective needs of families which

are hard to resolve, and relate these trends to

wider developments in a highly individualized

society. They suggest that western societies are

moving towards a post-familial family but, unlike

others who have observed family change and

seen alarming signs of decline, their analysis

identifies a range of new family forms which do

not conform to the nuclear ideal but which will

take their place alongside the more traditional

family structure. The theoretical scope of this

work has brought families back into mainstream

sociological thinking and reconnected the sociological

understanding of family life with wider

social changes. However, the tension with the

more grounded empirical work remains, especially

where evidence of the changes that Beck

and Beck-Gernsheim impute to the interiority of

family life is seen as tenuous or at least is disputed.

Notwithstanding this, the sociological

study of families has become reinvigorated and

has returned to a more central place in the

sociological canon. CAROL SMART

Fanon, Franz (1925–1961)

Born in Martinique, a French overseas territory in

the Caribbean, to a middle-class family of African

origin, Fanon studied medicine and psychiatry

in France in the late 1940s. He developed an

anti-colonial political doctrine that became a

main reference point for the Third World movement.

Fanon became involved in politics, both

as a writer and as an activist in the 1950s while

directing a psychiatric ward in Algeria (another

of France’s overseas territories) during the country’s

war of decolonization (1954–62). Having

joined the Algerian independence movement,

the Front de Libe´ration Nationale (FLN), he proposed

a radical brand of political existentialism

in which the realization of Algerian identity necessarily

coincided with the destruction of the

French presence in the country.

His Hegelian-inspired construction of the black/

colonized self through the negation of the white/

colonial presence was developed in two main

family Fanon, Franz (1925–1961)


works: Black Skin, White Masks (1952 [trans. 1967]

and The Wretched of the Earth (1961 [trans. 1965]).

Fanon showed how structures of domination,

mediated by culture and discourse, consistently

reminded the colonized of their fundamental inadequacy

in a world created by white colonizers

in their image. Hence, Fanon emphasized the

therapeutic aspect of violence by the oppressed

against their oppressor, which freed them from

their inferiority complex and restored their selfrespect.

Influential in postcolonial theory despite

its controversial apology for violence, Fanon’s

work has nonetheless been criticized for over--

emphasizing the racial dimension of domination

at the expense of aspects such as gender or religion.

His political essays are collected in two further

works: Studies in a Dying Colonialism (1959

[trans. 1965]) and Toward the African Revolution

(1964 [trans. 1967]). FREDERIC VOLPI


Sometimes used as a word of abuse to refer to

movements or individuals who are intolerant or

authoritarian, fascism is certainly intolerant

and authoritarian, but it is more than this. It is a

movement that seeks to establish a dictatorship of

the “right” (that is an ultra-conservative position

that rejects liberalism and anything associated

with the “left”). It targets communists, socialists,

trade unionists, and liberals through banning

their parties and their members, so that these

groups cannot exercise their political, legal, or

social rights. It is anti-liberal, regarding liberal

values as a form of “decadence” and seeing them

as opening the floodgates to socialist, communist,

and egalitarian movements.

As a movement, fascism extols action and practice

over ideas and theory. It uses ideas with considerable

opportunism, mixing socialist ideas,

avant-garde positions, anti-capitalist rhetoric, ecological

argument, and pseudo-scientific ideas to

do with race and ethnicity in a veritable potpourri.

Is it an ideology at all? Some have suggested that

fascism is too jumbled and incoherent to be called

an ideology, but, while fascism is peculiarly “flexible,”

there are particular features that characterize

it, so that a general view of fascism can be


The term derives from the fasces – the bundle

of rods carried by the consuls of ancient Rome;

the word fascio was used in Italy in the 1890s to

indicate a political group or band, usually of revolutionary

socialists. But fascism is essentially

a twentieth-century movement, although it draws

upon prejudices and stereotypes that are rooted

in tradition. Italian fascism saw itself as resurrecting

the glories of the Roman Empire, and

Alfredo Rocco (1875–1935), an Italian fascist, saw

Niccolo Machiavelli (1459–1517) as a founding

father of fascist theory. Nazism (which is an extreme

form of fascism) was regarded by its

ideologues as rooted in the history of the

Nordic peoples, and the movement embodied

anti-Semitic views that go back to the Middle Ages.

Fascism appeals particularly to those who

have some property but not very much, and are

fearful that they might be plunged by market

forces into the ranks of the working class. Fascism

is particularly hostile to Communism, since it

is opposed to the cosmopolitan contentions of

Marxist theory, and its belief in a classless and

stateless society. It is a movement that dislikes

universal identities of any kind, although of

course fascists may call for unity with kindred

spirits in other countries. Nevertheless, it is intensely

nationalistic, and takes the view that the

people must be saved from enemies whose way of

life is alien and threatening. Differences are

deemed divisive and menacing, and war extolled

as a way of demonstrating virtue and strength.

The idea that people are divided by social class

is rejected in favor of the unity of the nation or

people, so that industry is to be organized in a

way that expresses the common interest between

business and labor. In practice, this did

not happen, and it is arguable that fascism is

anti-capitalist only in theory, not in practice.

Fascists vary in their attitude towards the

church (extreme fascists may see religious organizations

as a threat to the state), but they regard

religion in a loose sense as being a useful way of

instilling order and loyalty. Certainly, they use a

religious style of language in invoking the need

for sacrifice, redemption, and spiritual virtue, and

fascists attack materialism, consumerism, and hedonism

as decadent and unworthy. Although

women can be fascists as well as men, fascism is

a supremely patriarchal creed, by which I mean

that women are seen as domestic creatures whose

role in life is to service men, to have children, to

be good mothers and wives, and to keep out of


Fascism is hostile to the liberal tradition, and

it dislikes the notion of reason. It regards the

individual as subordinate to the collectivity in

general, and the state in particular. Liberal freedoms

are seen merely as entitlements that allow

the enemies of the “nation” or the “people” to

capture power. Fascist regimes are highly authoritarian,

and use the state as the weapon of the

fascism fascism


dominant party to protect the nation, advance its

interests, and destroy its enemies. They are

strongly opposed to the idea of democracy (although

fascists may use democratic rhetoric to

justify their rule or use parliamentary institutions

to win access to power), and regard the notion of

self-government (the idea that people can control

their lives in a rational way and without force)

as a dangerous myth. As a movement based upon

repressive hierarchy, fascism argues that all institutions

should be controlled by “reliable”

leaders, and the “leadership principle” comes to

a climax with the supreme leader, seen as the

embodiment of the nation and the people. Fascist

leaders may be civilians, but they are closely identified

with the army and police, since these institutions

are crucial to rooting out opponents.

Fascist movements extend beyond the state, but

the violence of these movements is condoned

and encouraged by the state; given tight control

over the media, this violence is then justified in

the light of fascist values.

Fascists see themselves as revolutionary in that

they are concerned to “rejuvenate” a tired and

decadent society, and some fascists speak of creating

a “new man” in a new society. They are, therefore,

anti-conservative as well as anti-liberal,

although they may form tactical alliances with

other sections of the right when they can establish

momentary common ground. Many regimes,

loosely called fascist, are in fact conservative

and reactionary systems – Franco’s Spain, Pe´tain’s

“Vichy” France (a regime that collaborated with

the Nazis who occupied the country), Japan

under Tojo, and so forth. They may have fascist

elements within them, but they are not really

anti-conservative in character.

Postwar fascism has generally sought to distance

itself from intrawar ideologies in Germany

and Italy, and has ranged from movements that

see the European Community as containing the

germ of a “United Europe” to movements hostile

to the European Union. Some fascist movements

claim democratic credentials, although these are

not really plausible, given their intense chauvinism,

anti-feminism, and hostility to liberalism

and socialism. JOHN HOF FMAN


The study of fashion in the sociological tradition

has a long history. However, it is important to

distinguish between two related approaches: (1)

an emphasis on the study of fashion as a cultural

phenomenon of modernity; and (2) fashion as

the study of clothing and the body in specific

cultural contexts. These features are often run

together although we should recognize that they

are analytically separate. The sociologist Georg

Simmel argued that fashion emerges in a society

that is built upon social and cultural change.

For Simmel, fashion is built on the impulse to

distinguish yourself from others, while also

satisfying the need for social adaptation and

imitation. Fashion is mainly structured by social

class and is caught in constant cycles of innovation

and emulation. As elites attempt to

set themselves apart through observable social

markers like dress, others seek to copy the new

styles as they emerge from above. Consequently,

elites respond by inventing further new styles

and so on. Fashion in this analysis becomes a

novelty mania, where collective tastes are being

born and replaced at ever faster rates. Indeed, if

fashion becomes routinized and formalized it can

lose the charm it exercises over its consumers.

Simmel’s arguments were further developed

by Thorstein Veblen (1857–1929), who similarly

argued that the cycles of fashion were structured

by class. For Veblen what became fashionable

was largely determined by what was in short

supply and expensive. This was a way (as Simmel

also suggested) of distinguishing classes, but also

of displaying wealth and power. Fashion was a

way of making wealth visible through “conspicuous

consumption” so that it might be admired

by others.

There are two main objections to such views:

(1) the analysis tends to ignore other sociological

features such as age, race, and gender, which are

perhaps even more important than class in structuring

fashion; and (2) elites are no longer, if

indeed they ever were, the main purveyors of fashion.

In modern societies, elites often find themselves

“out of fashion” or even lagging behind

current trends.

Other studies of fashion have tended to emphasize

features other than social class. Gender is

now seen as a key determinant in the study of

fashion. In Elizabeth Wilson’s Adorned in Dreams

(1985), fashion is seen to represent the Romantic

movement’s critique of the culture of instrumentality

that accompanied the industrial revolution.

In this view fashion is explicitly concerned with

sensuality, aesthetics, and individualism. Further,

fashion values the life of the city by emphasizing

the spirit of play, fluidity, and performance over

authenticity. Fashion is a form of adult play

made possible by the development of modernity.

In this respect, Wilson criticizes some feminist

authors for dismissing fashion as a form of

fashion fashion


masculine control, when it offers women, its main

consumers, with the potential for aesthetic


Indeed many have argued that the “grand theorists”

of fashion have mistakenly presumed it

to be an explicit product of western society. Here

the study of fashion has become the recognition

of the acceptable codes of behavior that govern

the presentation of the body. In particular these

features have emphasized the role of gender and

youth in the construction of fashion. Particularly

important here has been the shift from equating

fashion with the lifestyles of social elites and

the rise of a mass fashion industry over the course

of the twentieth century. If, in the 1920s, Hollywood

helped democratize ideas of glamor and

beauty, it was the 1960s that provided the first

genuinely mass fashion. Further, the 1970s witnessed

the emergence of supermodels, who were

highly paid international figures who helped

promote a certain look. Most of these developments

sought to target women as the main consumers

of a fashionable image, but this would

change in the 1980s. Until this period heterosexual

men’s clothing was probably more conformist

than that of women. This was a direct

consequence of the fact that men risked being

labeled effeminate for showing too much interest

in fashion. Expressive fashions up until this point

were mostly confined to gay men, ethnic groups,

and popular entertainers. The shift in fashion occurred

during the 1980s for three main reasons:

(1) the arrival of high-street stores that explicitly

offered affordable stylish clothes for men; (2) new

visual representations of men (in particular the

softer and more caring form of masculinity that

was represented in the new man); and (3) the

arrival of new style and fashion magazines.

Other sociologists have emphasized how fashion

can become a site of cultural struggle. Dick

Hebdige, in Subculture (1979), argues that the

adoption of different styles on the part of young

people can act as a form of defiance. Fashion and

clothing can become a way of subverting dominant

discourses and codes that seek to regulate

acceptable behavior. Youth cultures and subcultures

hold out the possibility of suggesting new

and oppositional meanings in different social

contexts. The rise of new youth lifestyles since

the emergence of rock and roll in the 1950s

offered opportunities to subvert the values and

meanings of the dominant parent culture. However,

whatever the role that fashion plays in the

formation of identity, it continues to be linked to

a wider culture of modernity in a way that was

recognized by earlier classical thinkers. In particular,

fashion is a requirement of the economic

system. Unless consumers are willing to buy new

things, get into debt, and give up old tastes in

preference for the new, then capitalism’s ability

to expand would be severely curtailed. If fashion

represents change and the formation of identity,

it nevertheless continues to represent the cycles

of profit maximization in an increasingly

commercial world. NICK STEVENSON


In patriarchal societies fathers are a source of

both authority and power in the ordering of the

lives and social experiences of family members.

The role of fatherhood is an identity taken up

outside the workplace in the private sphere. In

industrial society the main role of the father

was to be both a provider for, and protector of,

the family. Many objected that such was the

authority of the father that the nuclear family

was actually a form of domination requiring the

subordination of women and children. Further the

image of the father proved to be a powerful one

with many national leaders earning the title

“father of the nation.” In more recent times, the

authority of individual fathers has been challenged

by the development of democratic norms

(women’s and children’s rights) and the development

of the welfare functions of the modern

state. In western industrialized societies, since

the 1950s, the role of fatherhood has been the

subject of transformation and change. The development

of dual-labor households and new expectations

in respect of intimacy have arguably

changed the role of fathers. Further, the development

of lesbian and gay social movements,

feminism, and other features have all sought to

increase the diversity of family types and has

arguably unsettled previous patterns of male


The changing roles of men and women and the

shaking of heterosexual norms have all taken

their toll on the social privileges of the father.

In The Transformation of Intimacy (1992), Anthony

Giddens has argued that families have become

more contingent social arrangements. Fatherhood

is no longer defined by economic necessity, but

has become an empty sign to be filled by the

participants within the relationship. This does

not mean that the family has become more harmonious.

Indeed with the decline of overt class

antagonisms, the family is the place where most

individuals are likely to experience conflict. Yet

if the role of fatherhood is being redefined, it

fashion fatherhood/fathers


is not clear that men themselves have kept

pace with the new demands now being made of

them. In the demand for new intimate and caring

family ties, men have become “laggards” in the

shift towards more egalitarian relationships. Such

a situation has meant that traditional forms

of masculinity (and fathering) continue to exist,

as a backlash in the face of the demand for more

equal relations, mainly coming from women.

Many feminists have criticized the idea that

we are currently living through a transformation

of this type. First, many radical critics argue that

patriarchy has been intensified rather than diminished

by current social transformations.

Under the hegemony of the market and masculine

values, motherhood has become a non-identity.

The care of children and vulnerable adults is

increasingly outsourced and is work of low social

status. Here the small steps that some fathers

have taken in respect of a more nurturing role

should not be allowed to overshadow more disturbing

transformations. Second, other critics

have contested the view that the home has been

democratized, pointing to the slow change of masculine

values and the continued subordination

of women, children, and other sexual identities.



– see fertility.


Histories of feminism usually assume that feminism

is a western, post-Enlightenment social

movement which has contributed significantly to

changes both in the social situation of women

and in social perceptions of women. This assumption

has frequently made feminism the subject of

attacks from women in non-western cultures who

have identified the movement as pre-occupied

with western issues and unable to understand

the gender relations of other societies. Thus it is

first and foremost important to recognize the

possible ethnocentricity of feminism, while at

the same time acknowledging that feminism, in

the broadest sense of the protest of women

against a subordinate social status, is both global

and takes different forms in different cultures.

Where feminism stands universally united is on

issues of the valid claim of women to education, to

a public voice, and to equality with men in law.

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