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The Fad or Fashion

A fad is a trivial, short-lived Variation in speech, decoration, or behavior." The fad apparently originates in' the desire to gain and maintain status by being different,· by being a leader, and dies out when it is no longer novel.
Bogardus [1950, pp. 30S-309J studied 2,702 fads over many years, finding that most of them deal. with trivia. They typically grow rapidly, have a two- or three-month plateau, and then decline, although some last longer, and a few become permanent. parts of the culture. The pet rock fad of 1977, which included the marketing of. diplomas, easy chairs, and burial lots for one's pet rock, may have owed its brief popularity to its audacious absurdity. It is doubtful that many pet rock owners vie ed it as anything but a cute joke. Fashions are similar to fads, but change less rapidly, are less trivial, and tend to be cyclical. Women's hemlines go up, down, up, down. Men's beards luxuriated, withered, and luxuriated again over a about a hundred years, as calculated by Robinson [1976J. The popularity of beards spreads until nearly all young men wear them as symbols of youth and masculinity. They remain popular until, as these young men' age, they are replaced by clean-shaven young men who now associate beards with doddering senility. According to Konig [1974], fashion originates in the desire to decorate one's body for greater sexual attractiveness. Fashion is important only in societies with i;l class system.
In a homogeneous, undifferentiated society, distinction through fashion does not arise, since all adorn themselves and act much alike. In a rigidly stratified society, fashion consciousness is unnecessary, for distinction is already firmly assigned [Blumer, 1969a, p.117]. It is in the open class society with considerable mobility that fashion is important. The upwardly mobile middle class are the most fashion conscious. Those who already are securely upper class can afford to show little concern for fashion and sometimes dress as though clothes were only to keep off the rain. Fashions do not always originate amongthe elite and diffuse downward but may  originate at any class level. In the early 1970s working-class garb became fashionable, and faded blue denims became too costly for the poor. Fashions spread as people who wish to be up to date make their collective selections from many competing models [Blumer, 1969bJ. Fashion may involve. almost any aspect of group life-manners, the arts, literature, philosophy, even the methodologies of science but is most often seen in clothing and adornment. As this is written, small alligators embroidered
on clothing are popular-probably already peaked and soon to fade [Ingrassia, 1981]. Yet fashions are not entirely trivial or whimsical, for they reflect the dominant interests and values of a society at a particular time [Harris, 1973]. Throughout most of history, to be fat was fashionable, for fatness was a sign of health and wealth in a world where hunger lurked everywhere [Hollander, 1977]. In the eighteenth century, elaborate clothing reflected an ornate and decorative upper-class culture, and the confining styles .

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