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UAL Research Online

Brands riots and class

Sullivan, Anthony (2012) Brands riots and class. In: Inaugural Conference of the European Popular Culture Association: EUPOP 2012, 11th - 13th July 2012, London College of Fashion. (Unpublished)

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: Sullivan, Anthony

Last July’s riots provoked a media storm, political outcry and unprecedented judicial repression. Central to this response was the view that the riots must be condemned not only for the widespread levels of destruction caused, but because, unlike previous social eruptions, they were not linked to any identifiable political cause. Rather than being an expression of anger about social injustice they were said to be a product of selfishness and greed. Media discourse focused on the shops looted and goods taken: designer sportswear, name brand trainers and causal clothing, alongside fast-moving consumer goods such as flat screen TVs and Play Stations.

This paper analyses the riots, drawing on both recent work on the impact of class inequality and relative deprivation alongside the classical sociology of fashion and consumption, notably Simmel, Veblen and Bourdieu. Building on this framework, it unpacks the figure of the feral teenager as the ‘marginalised consumer’ of contemporary culture. Using a Marxist approach to brands, as commodity fetishism par excellence, it argues fashion’s imputed democratic potential continues to be marred by its status as a ‘child of capitalism’ and, that the riots arose as a consequence of an era of intensified commodification, alienation, social division and contradiction in neo-liberal capitalism.

Other Contributors:
Other (European Popular Culture Association President)Church Gibson, Pamela
Other (Director of Research & Exchange)Harper, Graeme
Other (Conference Administrator)Simpson, Sarah Jane
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: identity,fashion, commodity fetishism, alienation, class
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 13 July 2012
Copyright Holders: Anthony Sullivan
Related Websites: http://eupop2012.tumblr.com/, http://twitter.com/#!/EUPOP2012
Related Websites:
Event Location: London College of Fashion
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2012 14:18
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2014 12:49
Item ID: 5134
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/5134

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