Monday, 3 February 2014

Bourdieu Fields, Habitus, Capital

The video above helps to simply define fields, habitus and capital. As does the essay by David James here which I found useful:

 James, D. (2011) Beginning with Bourdieu in educational research, British Educational Research Association on-line resource. Available on-line at

Monday, 27 January 2014

Abercrombie and Fitch Lifestyle Ideals

Abercrombie and Fitch Radio - What would/should an Abercrombie person listen to?

What should they like? Screen shot from A+F Pinterest board. 

Hollister Clothing: Made in China

Here I am just trying to get down some rough thoughts on this.

Need a direct quote on this but Karl Marx said that the method of production is invisibilised by the moment of consumption.

Hollister's brand image is focused on a Californian ideological lifestyle, this is the consumer product.

The image shows a Hollister label from an item of clothing I obtained. Here the theory of Marx is backed up in the form of typographical hierarchy. "California" which incidentally has little to do with the brands origin takes priority over "Made in China." The connotations of a Californian lifestyle, e.g. laid-back, fun-loving, beautiful are far more important to the consumer that where the product is made.

Karl Marx (1818-1883)

Karl Marx: Critique of Political Economy Appendix I

Available at:

Introduction to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

1. Direct identity: Production is consumption and consumption is production. Consumptive production and productive consumption. Economists call both productive consumption, but they still make a distinction. The former figures in their work as reproduction, the latter as productive consumption. All investigations of the former are concerned with productive and unproductive labour, those of the latter with productive and non-productive consumption.
2. Each appears as a means of the other, as being induced by it; this is called their mutual dependence; they are thus brought into mutual relation and appear to be indispensable to each other, but nevertheless remain extrinsic to each other. Production provides the material which is the external object of consumption, consumption provides the need, i.e., the internal object, the purpose of production. There is no consumption without production, and no production without consumption. This proposition appears in various forms in political economy.
3. Production is not only simultaneously consumption, and consumption simultaneously production; nor is production only a means of consumption and consumption the purpose of production – i.e., each provides the other with its object, production supplying the external object of consumption, and consumption the conceptual object of production-in other words, each of them is not only simultaneously the other, and not merely the cause of the other, but each of them by being carried through creates the other, it creates itself as the other. It is only consumption that consummates the process of production, since consumption completes the product as a product by destroying it, by consuming its independent concrete form. Moreover by its need for repetition consumption leads to the perfection of abilities evolved during the first process of production and converts them into skills. Consumption is therefore the concluding act which turns not only the product into a product, but also the producer into a producer. Production, on the other hand, produces consumption by creating a definite mode of consumption, and by providing an incentive to consumption it thereby creates the capability to consume as a requirement.

This explains The Binary Tension of Production and Consumption^

The following is a link to a powerpoint presentation I accessed for background
information on the ideas of Marx. The powerpoint has little information about 
production and consumption and has a greater emphasis on needs, the 
exploitation of labourers and social classes.

Binary Oppositions

I used the link above, Semiotics for Beginners by Michael Chandler in order to understand binary tensions.


  • some are gradable and some are not.
  • For "dark" to have any meaning you need "light." Therefore they rely on each other.
  • one of the opposition is supposed to be privileged. For example, friendly is good and unfriendly is bad.

Gareth Longstaff (lecturer): The key is understanding that they rely on each other and that the other binary make sense of its own position through what it is not – not what it is within the binary – i.e. – I only understand that I am a man on the basis of the fact that 'I am not a woman'. The tension is realised through this fact. So the tension lies between the binary, between the man/woman or in your instances tanned / not tanned – this occurs through language and signification. It is also contextual and discursive in that it is liable to change. The tension lies in the failure of tanned and not tanned to dominate or subjugate one another – each have to have some sort of binary other to make sense. This creates binary tensions and also representational meaning between those forms.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Abercrombie and Fitch Employee Handbook

These images are leaks from the Abercrombie associates handbook. The book explains how to get the perfect casual look and how hair must look naturally sun kissed by the sun. All part of the ideology the brand uses to sell their products.

Rationalisation and McDonaldisation

Rationalisation is the theory of Max Webber referring to the "replacement of traditions, values, and emotions as motivators for behaviour in society with rational, calculated ones."

This website here explains Rationality. Rationalisation is what Weber regards to be "one of the most important characteristics of the development of Western society and capitalism." 

McDonaldization is the theory of George Ritzer which expands on Max Weber's work on rationalisation. It is not about McDonnalds the fast food chain itself but the chain is representative of principles. "The rational principles that lie at the base of the fast-food restaurant are spreading throughout American society as well as the rest of the world." (Ritzer)
The term McDonaldization refers to “the process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world. “(Ritzer, 1993:1).

"The process of McDonaldization takes a task and breaks it down into smaller tasks. This is repeated until all tasks have been broken down to the smallest possible level. The resulting tasks are then rationalized to find the single most efficient method for completing each task. All other methods are then deemed inefficient and discarded."

Ritzer outlines five major themes within the process of McDonaldization: Efficiency, calculability, predictability, increased control, and the replacement of human by non-human technology.

A result of McDonaldisation, "All shopping malls begin to look the same and all highway exits have the same assortment of businesses." In the same way a Big Mac will be the same all over the world. 

Negative aspects to McDonaldisation: deskilling of labour force due to machines (dependance on the machine), quantity (size) over quality, material waste, everything is the same- no individuality, customers having to self service e.g. self checkout. 


1. To make American in form, style, or character.
2. To absorb or assimilate into American culture.
3. To bring under American influence or control.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

American Brands in the UK

I am interested in how American Brands which proudly express their American Heritage are so popular in the UK or elsewhere in the world. Often people are queueing when new American stores open in the UK. Hollister is a brand that projects the all american teenager, potentially linking to the brands initial success in the UK.  I am looking for texts which refer to this fascination with America in relation to other brands in order to help me with my research and analysis. This is a post I will be able to return to with more content.

The link below explains that Krispy Kreme has been such a hit in the UK despite the current national interest in healthy eating.

"This week, the North Carolina-based chain announced it would be doubling the number of its outlets in the UK to 100 over the next five years, on the back of growing sales, with revenue up 12.6% and serving 5 million customers."

"The brand is infused with a glamorous American mythology, helped in part by cameo appearances in television shows such as Sex and the City and The Sopranos, with well-publicised fans such as Madonna and BeyoncĂ©. It is an example of great branding, says Don Williams, chief executive of brand consultancy PI Global. "It has a strong personality, its heritage is almost tangible, and yet it doesn't feel like it's had marketeers all over it. It looks like it's always been that way – a little bit of old Americana, in the same way that Coca-Cola has its roots in that world. Notice the logo similarities.""

How Cool Brands Stay Hot- Joeri Van den Bergh and Mattias Behrer

So this post is a summary of all the most useful stuff for my project taken from the book How Cool Brands Stay Hot: Branding to generation Y. by Joeri Van den Bergh and Mattias Behrer. The first version of the book was published in March 2011 and I am using the updated version with new case studies published in March 2013. I would also like to point that I am using an eBook version of the book therefore page numbers will not reflect each other or the printed version of the book due to zooming capabilities. For this reason I have been less vigilant with page numbers.

Some of the sections/quotes I have pulled out relate to how brands connect with consumers in general and others have specific references to Hollister and Abercrombie.

The following video gives an intro to some of the areas covered in the book which is focused on Generation Y (13-29 year olds (In 2013).) It also gives background information on what defines Generation Y.


“If young people get positive feedback when consuming your brand, it will be more likely to find an emotional connection with them. This will lead to a stronger place for your brand in a youth's self identity.” P43

“Youngsters join animal rights movements, become members of political parties or organize social actions with their youth movements. Brands and products are not spared from their critical judgements. Company processes, origin of goods and advertising are studied and can be used as a symbol of protest. Other brands embrace this idealism by explicitly supporting good causes.”

“The length of a Time cover story has dropped from 4,500 to 2,800 words in the past 20 years. Average news sound-bites have slipped from 42 seconds in 1965 to a present-day low of 8 seconds. We want more entertainment better and faster.” 

“For Generation Xers, brands were communicating status and had to express that they were winners. For Generation Yers, brands are toolds for communicating who they are”

“Your brands needs to mirror the values and identity of the youngsters you are targeting. Brands that communicate a similar view of life will be more appealing.”

“To experience brands in exciting environments contributes to arousal. Positive emotions are one of the most important reasons why this generation of stimulation junkies will be loyal to your offer.”

“Gen Yers put more trust in people and social connections. Hot brands value the role of employees, shop personnel and ambassador clients to defend and spread their DNA.”