eventMarch 12 2015

Fashion as a Signal of Status in an Information-Centric Society

Judith Donath

Databite No. 28

Judith Donath presents work from an upcoming book and discusses fashion as a signal of status in an information-centric society:

“Fashion is a tremendous force in our society. The desire to stay in fashion affects the clothes we buy, the music we hear, the food we eat, and the stories we tweet. Fashion signals status in a mobile, information-based culture: following new styles (or not) indicates one’s level of access to new information, adeptness at recognizing new trends and willingness to continuously adapt and change.

The impact of fashion reaches far beyond the social world. It motivates innovation, both the drive to create new things and the willingness to adopt and adapt to the new. Yet fashion is also extravagant and costly. The rate of change in fashion accelerates as information moves more quickly; today’s instantaneously global communication results in unsustainably wasteful consumption.

Judith’s talk introduces fashion as a signal of status in an information-centric society, traces its history from the early Renaissance to today, and discusses the relationship between fashion and innovation, using examples ranging from programming languages to the contemporary art market.”

About Databites

Data & Society’s “Databites” speaker series presents timely conversations about the purpose and power of technology, bridging our interdisciplinary research with broader public conversations about the societal implications of data and automation.