Global Journal of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (GJAHSS)

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Clothing Norms in Tertiary Institutions: Negotiating Fashion Towards Social Hegemony


Public discourse and scholarship espouse the subjective influence of clothing norms over the natural body as visual markers of the social boundaries of fashion. As a backlash to student fashion on campus with growing incidences of immodest dressing, most tertiary institutions particularly in Nigeria introduced dress standards. Scholars have elaborated on how fashion has been used to negotiate social boundaries of power, identity, status, gender, etc.They differed on the approval/acceptability and disapproval/unacceptability of the institutional control over clothing behaviour of adults. This article underscores the role fashion plays as an effective driver of social control and hegemony.  Also, by underpinning sartorial practices in conformity to established institutional expectations and standards of appropriate nuances of formal dressing in institutions of higher learning. From an ethnographic standpoint, the study analysed the institutional standards of formal dressing or dress codes of different tertiary institutions in Nigeria as posted on their websites in addition to the participant method. This information is equally published in the students′ handbooks of these institutions. The post-structural Foucaultian approach to Discipline and Punishment is applied as an analytical framework. This explains disciplinary power as a mechanism of social control of the body in contemporary society through conformity to approved dress standards in a formal environment like the university.  It is argued that the framework provides an understanding of the significance of social control which may be hampered by misconceptions about what other people think of clothing norms.

Citation: Ubelejit-Nte A.A. (2023) Clothing Norms in Tertiary Institutions: Negotiating Fashion Towards Social Hegemony, Global Journal of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol.11, No.3, pp.39-55

Keywords: clothing norms, fashion, social body, social hegemony, visual markers

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