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Is Ethical Fieldwork Possible?

Catherine Lucas: February 2010

 

Introduction

To approach this question, we must focus on certain common dilemmas faced by researchers in the field. For the purposes of this essay, I will investigate the following: how can field researchers obtain information morally when in difficult or dangerous situations? and, what can we do when personal safety or the continuation of our research, is in jeopardy?

I refer to two ethnographies from different times, situations and subjects, both facing the same problems of ethics concerning the use of covert research, questions of power balance, and protection of both the informants and the researcher themselves. These two ethnographies are Tearoom Trade (Laud Humphreys: 1970), and Mumbai Slums and the Search for ‘A Heart’ (Atreyee Sen: 2004)

In order to examine the ethics of the former study in hindsight of the field, I will be analysing the comments made by Punch in 1986, who explored in depth how to identity and overcome problems in fieldwork. His insights, I believe, lend useful understanding to the dilemma faced by Humphreys during his research, and consequently have a bearing on how I will approach and analyse Sen’s ethical issues in Mumbai.

Deception and lies:

The moral predicament of ‘Tearoom Trade’ (Laud Humphreys: 1970)

Through his research tactics Humphreys reinforces an image already prevalent in some circles that social scientists are sly tricksters who are not to be trusted…involving deception and manipulation… (Donald Warwick, in Bulmer: 1982:58)

Tearoom Trade (1970) covered covert research conducted by Humphreys in the late 1960s under the guise of being a homosexual man interested in engaging in casual sex in public toilets. He infiltrated a group using an alias and established himself as their ‘watch-queen’ – the man who would watch for police. During this time he took covert notes using a hidden recorder and was meticulous in his details, which included the license plates of the men involved. He later altered his appearance and used the information to conduct a ‘health survey’ on the men he had tracked from his findings. Although his research was an aid to understanding sexual practices, his methods left a lot to be desired and faced harsh criticisms.

Warwick’s comments lead us to wonder whether Humphrey’s methods of covert research led anthropologists and sociologists following after him to suffer from the legacy of so-called ‘deceit’ he left behind. Punch, in his 1986 examination of ethical fieldwork, questions whether some research subjects ought to be off limits altogether, which is another query raised by the content of Humphreys’ findings on homosexuality. His work was slammed by some critics not only for its methods of undeniably devious covert observation, but also for the immoral sexual nature of its content. Punch refers to Humphreys’ work as “well-known, if not now notorious,” (1986:31) so it is clear that his work has gained some notoriety amongst fellow anthropologists in a manner both humorous and as a subject of controversy. However, in 1980 Galliher notes that a strict ethics system for researchers may serve to protect certain subjects from being exposed, and that this could lead to harm rather than prevent it (cited by Wax, see references).

Covert research could be conducted by an academic in the interest of exposing the nefarious practices; but, even then, for some social scientists, certain areas are simply taboo because association with them is morally repugnant. (Punch: 1986:31)

It is clear here that Punch is referring to Humphreys’ research, however he does go on to admit that what some researchers may consider immoral subjects to explore, others may simply view as new challenges. This is one of the primary issues when determining whether a subject should even be considered morally acceptable to investigate: Humphreys, for example, may have seen no reason not to research ‘cottaging’ (secret meetings for casual homosexual sex in public toilets), indeed today we might not see it as such a shocking subject in comparison to the 1970s.

From this angle, then, perhaps we should consider the merits, if there are any, of covert research in this context, before dismissing it out of hand. Being such a secretive and taboo subject at the time, I do not believe that Humphreys would have encountered many men, particularly those apparently happily married, who would have accepted being interviewed on their casual homosexual encounters. Posing as the ‘watch-queen’ (guard) of the public toilet these encounters took place in may seem underhanded, elusive and immoral; however I do not think Humphreys would have collected such detailed data without securing this position.

The first area of true contention, starts I believe, with the use of a ‘health survey’ by Humphreys to collect further details on his subjects. To find the homes of these subjects, he also used the car plate numbers of men he had observed at the public toilets whilst working as ‘watch-queen,’ and recorded. This I feel is a gross violation of the trust the men bestowed on the ‘watch-queen,’ and damages the ethicality of his study more greatly than any of his former actions.

The problems encountered by Humphreys over the question of how to enter the field to carry out the research at all, is a problem Punch describes as a ‘situational dilemma.’ Referring to Humphreys’ work on Tearoom Trade in particular, however, Punch is quite contemptuous of the conscious use of covert and what he views as immoral methods. His main problem is also the recording of car number plates in order to track the men being observed. The idea of the group under observation being ‘relatively powerless’ (1986:34) highlights the issue of a wildly unbalanced power-play situation. Humphreys’ methods were not only covert, but also relied on not being discovered by the group in question, leaving them powerless to object to or approve the situation. Punch is inflexible in his insistence that some form of ‘informed consent’ should be adhered to, even if the true knowledge of the research is made clear to only one person.

Examining ethics in violent field settings:

‘Mumbai Slums and the Search for ‘A Heart’’ (Atreyee Sen: 2004)

While living and working with these women, I found myself a helpless, often frightened bystander to various forms of factional ‘war.’ Would, should, could I prevent this overt use of violence and threats? …The eerie spectre of ethics continued to haunt my work… (Sen: 2004:1)

Sen’s fieldwork was carried out in the slums of Mumbai and focused on the violent women’s movements that were rallying alongside the Hindu nationalists there, against the men they believed were making working conditions extremely oppressive and dangerous for women and children. Sen’s fieldwork took her close to the dangers of rape and physical harm, which she also witnessed amongst others. Her ethical dilemma became whether it was moral to simply sit on the sidelines, observing the violence being done to her newfound peers, or whether it was ethically unsound from an anthropological viewpoint to make any interjections.

She cites her aim as an anthropologist was to ‘make sense’ of her surroundings and “learn why young and old women in Mumbai slums became Hindu nationalists and engaged in collective, communal violence and urban conflict.” This violence was often in gang form against men in the community and also against other women who opposed their actions. Kondo’s 1990 description of how the fieldwork setting gradually becomes a familiar place you attach your familial emotions to, helps Sen to describe how attached she became to the women she was both researching and living alongside; how attached she became to the people around her: “…the ‘setting’ eventually becomes populated with people you grow to know, sometimes to love…” (Kondo 1990:7) This attachment to the ‘subjects’ of her field research made Sen increasingly unable to remain within the more stringent rules of ethics.

Some of the initial difficulties encountered in conducting her research, arose simply because the ethical manner of keeping all persons informed if they were being observed or recorded made her a target of suspicion. She was accused of being a ‘Bengali researcher rat’ by some of the movement’s leaders, as her data collecting began to arouse distrust in those around her. Given the delicate and dangerous situation of this fieldwork, therefore, we may forgive Sen for adopting what she refers to as “‘covert urban research.’ [Which] …gave rise to several paradoxes and grave ethical dilemmas.” (2004:3) She pretended to be an upper class Hindu woman in order to gain access to people she might otherwise have been unable to interview, and also used this role to protect herself personally.

However, when discussing the ideas raised by the ‘Sena’ women of the movement, she was careful never to offer any of her own opinions, which would not only have hindered her research but may have introduced a moral dilemma for the women being interviewed. Sen’s methods may seem unethical in part due to the by definition immoral practice of covert research, but on the other hand, her choice to do so was motivated not only for her own safety, but to protect others and to keep her findings as untarnished by her own status in the field as possible.

I made every effort to be fair to the Sena women and their circumstances. However in doing so I represented just one side of the on-going arguments concerning justice, revenge, forgiveness and freedom, and my work does not discuss the victims of the Bombay riots or their impotence while watching the Sena women wreak havoc and display their power. (Sen: 2004:4)

Sen readily admits the one-sided nature of her research findings, which was, I assume, a product of keeping herself seemingly ‘on the side’ of the Sena women, rather than putting herself in the middle of the conflict. I cannot see a problem with this, as the fact that she acknowledges this setback is useful enough an explanation. Her experience shows that although the field researcher must present as balanced findings as possible, they may be unable to do so in a situation that puts their own life at risk. For Sen, to fraternise with the other side of the conflict could also harm her allowance to collect information.

Threats on her life were also made, should she misuse the information she had gathered for any other use than that she relayed to the Sena women. She was “tailed by a Sena ‘detective’ for days before [she] …was allowed to live in the slums,” and this highlighted the power struggle between anthropologist and informer: Sen possessed information that gave her power over the Sena women, yet they also possessed the threatened power of violence against her and the ability to cut her off from further information. She constantly felt the push-pull of her work and her own quality of life during the fieldwork period, noting that she “…did not keep that [emotional] distance from the Sena women and whilst this made my ethnography richer it made my life poorer. A researcher who lived partially in fear of her subjects.” (2004:4)

Sen was also unable to conquer her own personal emotional reactions to certain events around her, where violence occurred that she had to witness, or where she watched children being taught to act violently. In the latter case she intervened, which on reading her account I believe she found relieving: “…just for a while, I felt I had suspended notions of cultural relativism and objective ethnography and climbed down from the role of ‘the non-interventionist anthropologist.’” (2004:5)

This admission of freedom in intervening against a violent action shows Sen not as an anthropologist but as a human being first. Unfortunately, there are many arguments we could explore as to the ethicality of this intervention, not least of all that had this action had a unfavourable outcome, it could have not only hindered or halted the research Sen was involved with, but also might have had a more fatal outcome for the researcher herself.

Although Sen did intervene on the actions of her subjects in this one circumstance, her notes suggest that she generally attempted to remain a placid observer to all
situations, even where violence occurred. She is not insensible to the fact that silence is often taken as alliance with a cause, a fact that she addresses at the close of her paper:

Through their construction of me as a friend, a sympathiser and an agent of the bhari duniya, the wider world, did they also construct an image of the duniya that would support their aggression? (2004:6)

The power balance throughout Sen’s fieldwork remained more securely in favour of the Sena women than the anthropologist studying them. Would it have harmed Sen personally to take affront with what was happening in the Mumbai slums? We can only truly focus, after the event, on the information gathered. This information, although somewhat one-sided in content, nonetheless represents a strong insight into the inner-workings of a dangerous political movement, and in this case we might more readily bend the rules of ethics. In addressing whether ethical fieldwork was possible in the case, I cannot say that it was unethical, as Sen clearly acts in a manner she believes safest to both herself and her subjects, whilst diligently attempting to expand her access to greater in-depth research.

Conclusion

Punch notes that in some cases of fieldwork it may be “situationally inappropriate to repeat continually that purpose [of the research] and to identify oneself.” (1986:37) By this he means that the researcher may be unable to constantly introduce themselves as an anthropologist, and should use the rule to do so as a guideline that may be varied under difficult circumstances.

In Sen’s case, it would have been dangerous to continually announce herself as a researcher, although she did ensure that those she interviewed were aware that she was making a study of them. If we look at Humphreys, on the other hand, he makes no attempt to suggest that he is conducting research, and in fact consciously hides this by adopting disguises.

Despite his dubious methods it cannot be denied that Humphreys’ research gave us a far greater understanding of human sexual activities outside of ‘normative’ practices. At the time of Tearoom Trade’s publication, the AIDs epidemic was about to hit, and until that time barely any attention had been given to ‘cottaging’ or the idea that married men might perform homosexual activities in secret. The main issue to contention must be whether or not his records ensured to sufficient degree the confidentiality of his subjects, for as Punch stresses: “What is trivial to us may be of vital concern to the researched.” (1896:48)

Words: 2,432.

Essay produced for Goldsmiths College, London. 2010.

 

 

Bibliography/References

Hunt, Jennifer. C. (1989) Psychoanalytic Aspects of Fieldwork. Sage University Paper.

Laud Humphreys (1970) Tearoom Trade. UK: London. Gerald Duckworth & Co.

MaCall and Simmons (eds.), (1969) Issues in Participant Observation. USA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

Punch, Maurice. (1986) The Politics and Ethics of Fieldwork. Sage University Press pp.29-48

Sen, Atreyee (2004) ‘Mumbai slums and the search for ‘a heart’: Ethics, ethnography and dilemmas of studying urban violence,’ in: Anthropology Matters Journal 2004, Vol 6. (http://www.anthropologymatters.com)

Wax, Murray. L. ‘Some issues and sources on ethics in anthropology,’ from: Cassell, J. and Jacobs, S.E. Handbook on Ethical Issues in Anthropology. (http://www.aaanet.org/committees/ethics/toc.htm)

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I realise, of course, that this blog has been severely neglected of late, and this is down to two primary reasons:

1. I spilled sugary tea all over my laptop and haven’t been able to do so much as turn it on for nearly 3 months now. Finally, at the end of this week I should be the proud owner of a new HP – thanks to the parents for help!

2. Basic lack of material.

…. Actually no, that 2nd is probably the worst excuse ever from an anthropology student, so let’s backtrack: There are some critiques of recent fashion/fragrance advertising at my sister blog ‘Catherine Lucas Design’ (filed under Art Reviews), which may be of interest not only for those engaged in fashion theory and/or advertising techniques, but also sociology.

Once I am securely back online and not borrowing IT access from parents/friends/uni/work, I also hope to revive this blog and get the debates going again. I also plan to change the site header as soon as I have access to Photoshop again; withdrawal from my beloved Adobe Creative Suite brings its own special forms of pain.

Over but not out.

The Anthromodeologist.

 

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(October 2007, Catherine Lucas)

‘Uniforms’, as a subdivision of clothing categories, are continuously and obviously present in our daily lives. School uniforms may be our own personal experience of uniforms, followed by those worn by the public services such as the police, defence services of the military, and even up to and including hospital workers, shop assistants, and the ‘business uniform’ of the suit worn to the office. However, uniforms are present in many less defined areas of our clothing decisions. Using theories of semiotics, we can begin to understand how our conscious (or unconscious) decision to wear black clothing, for example, may link one’s appearance to that of the goth, without comprising a set uniform, but by taking clothing as a signifier of non-verbal messages to extend an idea of a ‘uniform’ of a certain ‘social group’ towards others.

To understand this idea of simulated uniformed dressing, one must first address the idea of semiotics, which cultural theorist Umberto Eco defines as “concerned with everything that can be taken as a sign.”[1] Clothing acts as one of the many social signifiers with which we visually convey information about ourselves to each other. According to the semiologist Roland Barthes, who used theories of semiotics and applied them to fashion, “for any particular object (a dress, a tailored suit, a belt) three different structures exist, one technical, another, iconic, the third, verbal.”[2] In terms of fashion, media and social informers are used to determine the visual language that certain clothing conveys. This links back into the idea of networking social subcultures, as we may give a certain meaning to a specific garment according to the social subculture we come to identity it with.

The same idea can be applied to uniforms, in that a school uniform, for example, is specifically formulated to convey any number of meanings. A school uniform does not, merely tell outsiders which school the wearer attends, but is also designed to give an impression of the school’s educational status as an institution, and also to give an impression of the social ‘sector’ it takes its target students from. For example, a school uniform worn with a blazer and tie may be intended to portray a sense of middle class elevation, and also hold the school up as one which encourages smart dressing and through this angle of presentable appearance, one which inspires good grades and polite social conduct. The origins of the school uniform began in Great Britain, with many older schools still embedded in military roots[3], particularly boys’ schools such as Eton College[4] and Gordon School, and remains a tradition for many schools sharing this background despite becoming co-educational and dropping their fees after ‘modernisation’, such as Sir Roger Manwood’s School. The traditions of many such schools continue to incorporate a cadet force and draw their uniforms from this influence, although for most schools full military regalia are only worn for parades or on ‘founding’ day.  

Our social obsession with identity, our desire to fit with the crowd yet simultaneously assert ourselves simultaneously as individuals, is at the heart of the idea of fashion, as the social signification of the clothes we wear is used to assert different ideologies every day. With some very standardised uniforms such as school uniforms, individuals may often feel that their ability to assert themselves in an individual manner is being quashed, however where we assert ourselves to less regulated uniforms of our preferred social groups, we may feel that we are allowed to express ourselves more freely. According to the theories of Joanne Entwistle concerning the ‘dressed body’,

            “Not only does dress form the key link between individual identity and the body, providing the means, or ‘raw material’ for performing identity, dress is fundamentally an inter-subjective and social phenomenon, an important link between individual identity and social belonging.”[5]

What we wear is chosen whether consciously or not, to reflect our social or intellectual aspirations. Where such cases may arise that we wish to assert ourselves within a particular or preferred social group which is ‘not our own’, this dressing may cause a subversion of our own identity, taking on the characteristics of a ‘costume’ or social disguise. Uniforms, whether consciously constructed in an obvious manner for school or work, or unconsciously in order to signify a social ideal, allow us to construct our own identities; identities which may easily be altered by simply changing our uniform to that of another social arena.

Calefato extends on this idea; describing an example of a specific scenario where we may see another outside of the ‘uniform’ we have become accustomed to associating them with:

            “We have all chanced to meet… someone we normally see only at work, hand haven’t recognised them immediately, since they were dressed (or undressed) differently …with a soldier…we are used to seeing [them] in uniform, and so we don’t recognise them in ‘plain clothes’.” (2004)[6]

Our daily uniform becomes synonymous with how we are placed in relation to others in such a strong way through the semiotics of clothing, that to be parted from this ‘identity’ becomes a potentially shocking experience. Many of the subcultures we are identified with can trace their fashion statement roots back to an injection of military uniform styling.

In addition to forming the basis for what we can now recognise as the source of the school uniform and workers’ uniformity of dress, leading to the integration of more recognisable ‘uniforms’, military uniforms remain the most obvious examples of strict uniforms in our society. Although the dress codes of our many subcultures adopt variations on a uniformed identity, elements of military dress are seen throughout many of these arenas and across the fashion spectrum, providing the inspiration in cut, design, silhouette and even self-comportment. This essay will explore elements of military dress and how they have influenced fashion in recent history.

In the 1980s, female office attire centred around the ‘power suit’, and the concept of powerful dressing in the workplace. This apparent ‘pro-masculine’ aspect of female fashions took its inspiration from the power of elevated individuals in the military, seeking to inject women in the workplace with a similar sense of power. Boxy shoulder pads, for instance, emulated a masculine physique and encouraged a ‘powerful’ stature. Similar to the origins of the male office suit, the female ‘power suit’ was derived from these military roots, and echoed the political climate for the 1980s, in the UK in particular, under the leadership of Britain’s first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This was also apparent in popular television soaps of the time such as Dallas, or Dynasty .[7] Although these styles do not appear to look like military uniform copies, the design concepts they drew on heavily borrowed from this area of clothes design. The effect this had on fashion was to give women a newfound sense of power within the workplace and also in their own bodies as powerful symbols of economic and sexual iconography. This reference to the military continued into the early 90s even as the shoulder pads gave way to aviator jackets, which were derived from the uniform of air force pilots.[8] In a hint towards the Navy, blue jeans with crisp white shirts and blue blazers also made an appearance around 1993. A more recent return to the nautical trend was seen in summer 2005 on the British catwalks,[9] featuring a variation of takes on the integration of Naval elements into fashion design, from an almost fetishised femininity at Alexander McQueen, to more sombre attempts from Stella McCartney. 

Elements of fetish dressing in fashion are often associated with the influence of military uniforms, as are the origins of some gay subcultures such as ‘leather men’ in the 1950s. Films such as “The Wild One” (1953) starring Marlon Brando popularised leather jackets, which were “first used by German military personnel in the First World War (Farren 1985) and later by military personnel on both sides in World War II,” and had become adopted by motorcycle gangs and then into areas of gay fashion as a symbol of “a man in combat with all positive social forces”.[10] Leather jackets and in particular ‘aviator’ styles, continue to move in and out of fashion trends, as with other military influences. In a less obviously machismo manner, Dolce and Gabbana periodically incorporate military and nautical themes into their men’s wear collection through braid detailing and added components such as epaulettes to suggest a hint of uniform styling.

As a consequence of these earlier leather subculture adoptions, military influences began to filter down to subversive up and coming designers such as Vivienne Westwood, who designed her infamous ‘seditionaires bondage suit’ in 1976 “inspired by American military fatigue trousers and the motorcyclists Belstaff jacket. It was first worn by Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols in Paris, and caused uproar. The trousers have a zippered seam under the crotch and a detachable black towelling bum flap, like a loincloth, and ‘hobble’ straps.”[11]. It was the clever adaptation of ideas alongside seductive but not overtly reputation-destroying subversive designs such as these that helped propel Westwood into success, and earn her a place in mainstream fashion. The essence of decadent military is a theme Westwood returns to consistently across her collections, such as the collection of parade jackets produced for her Spring/Summer collection of 2005.[12]  

In contrast to the popularity of military uniforms as the basis of sexual statements, they are also used on a political angle to promote peace, with a recent example coming from “Collection Bebe” in March 2007.

“The collection, designed by the astute couture hand of David Cardona, began with inspiration from the state of the world and how everyone is longing for peace… This season, Cardona explored the contrasts of war and peace. He juxtaposed military styles with edgy futuristic looks and used the structure of masculine tailoring to contrast the curves of the feminine form. It was toy soldier meets sexy little doll. Cardona said the collection wasn’t originally meant to be a political statement, but he and British stylist, Paula Bradley, ran with the theme… There were sleek, sharply tailored military officer coats… leather jackets … styled with white officer’s belts and gloves. “If clothing could only inspire peace that would be something amazing,” said Cardona. (March 18 2007, AM)”[13]

Contemporary fashion statements reflect the political state of the world. At the time of publishing, the above quote was written as British and American troops waged war in Iraq, and fashion allows individuals to express their own opinions of these political and social events. The idea of “everyone longing for peace”[14] is manipulated within Cardona’s collection not only as a fashion statement but as a social commentary, purposefully drawing on military influences to illustrate critical opinion on the world as seen by anti-war exponents.

The topic of war is one which will always be associated in some way with military-inspired fashions, and collections may not be as well received at that of Cardona. The below story reported in July 2001 stands testament to the use of militant imagery gone wrong and taken as an ill-favoured political statement by critics and religious groups.

Barbaro Treatment

THE Jewish community in Britain has rallied in condemnation of an Italian designer who made use of a swastika motif in a fashion show in Rome last week. Francesco Barbaro, a 26-year-old from southern Italy, argued that he was attempting to ridicule the slavish nature of fashion by dressing his models in military-style clothes daubed with the controversial Nazi symbol. “I wanted to attack the pretentious side of the fashion world and the fashion victim who is even willing to wear a tragic symbol like the swastika just to keep up with the latest fashions from the designer of the moment,” he told Reuters. But the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which understands that some designers will engage in shock tactics to gain media attention, has slammed his actions claiming that the swastika would always be linked to the Holocaust. “The use of the swastika is not only tasteless and offensive but it may also encourage racist and anti-Semitic behaviour by neo-Nazi groups,” Public Affairs Director Fiona Macaulay said. “The electoral rise of the far right in Britain reflects a Europe-wide increase which all ethnic and minority groups are monitoring with some concern.”[15] 

 
 

The shock tactics employed by Barbaro had a damaging effect on his status as a designer but also influenced contemporary fashion for the following season against utilising potentially subversive uniformed references, keeping areas of the armed forces which are generally characterised in fashion as less disruptive, such as nautical themes which become less threatening through a dominant colour palette of white, red and navy blue, which has a more psychologically calming influence due to our concepts of colour signifiers through which we associate colours such as white with peace and tranquillity.

Nautical themes and feminised Naval uniforms crop up periodically as a trend, generally for Spring/Summer collections, as a more accessible take on uniform trends. The temptation to plunge too far into the kitsch is one which is often fallen into, but at its core, the habitual clean lines and uncomplicated colours long associated with this look continue to ensure its popularity not only on the catwalk but also on the high street. However, there have always been some designers such as Gaultier who play with the ‘hello, sailor’ camp imagery derived from some Naval references, though these are generally met in better humour than Barbaro’s swastika offering.   

If the “imposition of uniforms and dress codes” is intended to “exercise control over the workers within,”[16] (Entwistle) then it is fashion’s purpose to release the worker, and break the mould of obedience. Even if there is a truth in the statement that we dress in a way that “may assuage… fear by stabilizing our individual identity,”[17] (Wilson, 1985) there are no rules to suggest that the fashion industry cannot shake up these identities we have cocooned ourselves in, even if that means a drastic reshaping of our common uniforms. The integration of aspects of military uniforms into our habitual styling allows for a more expressive comment on clothing and its sigification, whilst simultaneously offering the wearer a crutch of uniformity to cling on to.

Although some interpretations incorporating militant references have failed to meet the approval of critics and industry press, fashion’s love affair with the uniform of the armed forces continues to reinvent itself periodically throughout fashion history and continues to enjoy a strong status in recent years. The coded meanings embedded within some interpretations may remain open to further speculation and argued interpretations as their potency maintains its level of insight dependant on the political and social feelings current of the period. However, it is clear that as we look back on the progress of these trends throughout the 20th century and into the present day, the subcultures and social commentaries built around these trends invariably hold particular or significant insights into the continuously changing climate of fashion, pop culture, sexual and political awareness, and the semiotics of clothing as social and cultural signifiers.


[1] Umberto Eco, “A Theory of Semiotics.” Macmillan, London 1976.

[2] Roland Barthes, “Elements of Semiology.” trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. Jonathan Cape: London 1967.

[3] http://www.archivist.f2s.com/bsu/Bsu.html

[4] http://www.etoncollege.com/default.asp

[5] Joanne Entwistle, essay: ‘The Dressed Body’. From the book: “Body Dressing.” Joanne Entwistle and Elizabeth Wilson. Berg, UK / US. 2001. (Sub-section: ‘Dress and Embodied Subjectivity.’)

[6] Patrizia Calefato: ‘The Clothed Body’. Berg, US / UK. 2004. p.23.

[7] http://www.fashion-era.com/power_dressing.htm

[8] http://www.fashionera.com/the_1990s.htm

[9] see catwalk stills at http://www.vogue.co.uk/Trends/Spring_Summer_2005/Nautical/slideshow.asp?Page=0

[10] Diana Crane, “Fashion and its Social Agendas: Class, Gender and Identity in Clothing.” University of Chicago Press, 2000. p. 182.

[11] http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/1231_vivienne_westwood/changing_styles_2.html

[12] http://www.telegraph.co.uk

[13] http://www.vogue.co.uk/vogue_daily/story/story.asp?stid=43798 Article by N. Jayne Seward.

[14] Ibid.

[15] 27th July 2001. Journalist unknown. http://www.vogue.co.uk/vogue_daily/story/story.asp?stid=853

[16] Joanne Entwistle, “The Dressed Body”.

[17] Ibid.

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