By Daniel Miller

This clean and obtainable ethnography bargains a brand new imaginative and prescient of the way society may possibly cohere, within the face of on-going international displacement, dislocation, and migration. Drawing from extensive box paintings in a hugely assorted North London local, Daniel Miller and Sophie Woodward concentrate on a regular item—blue jeans—to study what one easy article of garments can let us know approximately our person and social lives and not easy, via extension, the foundational anthropological presumption of “the normative.” Miller and Woodward argue that blue denims don't continuously characterize social and cultural distinction, from gender and wealth, to sort and condition. as an alternative they locate that denims permit members to inhabit what the authors time period “the ordinary.” Miller and Woodward exhibit that the emphasis on changing into traditional is critical for immigrants and the inhabitants of North London extra more often than not, and so they name into query foundational ideas in the back of anthropology, sociology and philosophy.

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Extra resources for Blue Jeans: The Art of the Ordinary

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These issues of conformity and individuality are more fully developed in the next chapter, in relation to fashion. Chapter 3 Fashion The primary concern in this volume is with jeans as refracted through the experiences of the people who live in the three ordinary streets in North London where we carried out the research. We regard these individuals as the determinants of what jeans mean and how they come to matter. Our focus is upon their routines, their relationships, the broader trajectories of their lives, and the role that jeans have in these.

Jeans are both the measure of her body and sometimes even the reward for getting her body shape right. She is not necessarily typical, but she is certainly not unique, either. Many of our informants feel that they need a slim enough body to fit the look of jeans; yet once they have this type of body, there is a sense that jeans are supposed to “do” something for the wearers, whether give them a bottom or hide a stomach. A sort of magical agency is attributed to jeans. While this is less evident in London, Sassatelli (2011) in her work in Milan found a close correspondence between this concept of fit (that is, getting the physical relationship between jeans and the body right in terms of tightness or baginess) and how the clothed body in this process becomes sexualized.

One of the key issues to emerge was that of “generation” in terms of what people wore in certain periods of their life and also what was more broadly fashionable at 28 | Blue Jeans any one period. This sense of change within people’s lives and as they located themselves in wider social histories was for many mediated through music and clothing. Jeans can here be understood as linking the individual to wider social groups and time periods and also broader sartorial change. Within these life histories jeans also work in terms of people’s sense of themselves, both in relationship to periods of time and a consequent sense of stability, change, or rupture, and also in their wider relationships—to style in general, to other people, and finally to themselves in terms of their own bodies.

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