Essay: Formation of Women’s Identities and the Issues with the 20th Centenary Society

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  • Subject area(s): Sociology essays
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  • Published on: January 17, 2020
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  • Formation of Women's Identities and the Issues with the 20th Centenary Society
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This dissertation will develop an explanation of the formation of women’s identities and the issues surrounding them in the current twentieth century society. Throughout the research stages and exploration of academic texts, it became evident that there is a lack of material and analysation on the niche subject of the wardrobes women create purely for holidaying purposes. Brydon and Niessen confirm this theory and discuss its absence through arguing it is “academic denial of the body that has marginalised the topic of clothing and fashion within mainstream social science” (1998: ix). This “denial of the body” has led to research and knowledge around how we create our identities through clothing to be lacking. Through employing Bourdieu’s work on habitus and cultural capital as a building block for key terminology, theories and critical readings, this dissertation will discuss how habitus creates our identities (1984). Fashion has a social agenda and “clothing… performs a major role in the social construction of identity” (Crane, 2000: 1) so understanding the meanings and symbols clothing can portray and their prominent roles in identity creation could be an important and relevant topic to discuss. The symbols in question derive from the so-called ‘master statuses’ that address core sociological attributes around the representation of self (Davis, 1992). The motivation for studying and researching this topic was influenced by the Erasmus programme and personal time spent travelling around Europe, where style could be seen changing dependant on the social environment and groups of people associated with each habitat. As Balet states in her photography work of adolescents creating their identity across different countries: “the critical open mind of the traveller” (2006: 5); travelling can broaden the mind and one’s perceptions of both their own and others identities. This dissertation will assume global politics within personalism vs. collective identities and how fashion can be disseminated throughout society. Within these chapters themes of the consumption of holiday material, including printed magazines, social media and the retailing of travelling clothing will also be considered and investigated, to examine how dressing for a particular occasion can be identity-crisis-inducing. This will question and explore what it means to become ‘the woman I want to be’, analysing the expectations individuals put on themselves and how they acquire and thus perform these idealised visions. It is useful to study and contextualise topics; underpinning key terminology to question and understand if and how clothing creates and articulates our identities.

The research objectives for this dissertation are to understand how our identities are created, and then how they are affected by societal-environmental changes when travelling. Does the identity of one’s self develop on holiday, or temporarily change for the mobilising individual? When consuming and preparing for travels, do we consciously do so and thus put our mind into an anxious and state of high expectations? This dissertation will debate how and if the clothes we pack for holidays are accurate representations of ourselves or idealistic visions we aim to achieve. It might be suggested to conclude whether holidays are the catalyst for an identity crisis or the beginning of a new stage of being and becoming.

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