Author: Xu, Wenwen
Title: Fashion and clothing as meaning-making systems : a socio-semiotic approach
Advisors: Au, Joe (ITC)
Tan, Jeanne (ITC)
Matthiessen, Christian (ENGL)
Veloso, Francisco (ENGL)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2018
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Fashion -- Social aspects
Clothing and dress -- Social aspects
Semiotics -- Social aspects
Department: Institute of Textiles and Clothing
Pages: xv, 510 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: This study aims to explore fashion and clothing as meaning-making systems, from the standpoint of social semiotics. Working with its frameworks, the study defines fashion and clothing systems along the semiotic dimensions of architecture, discusses fashion and clothing within multisemiotic discourse and models the patterns of three metafunctions. To elucidate the complex phenomenon in question, the study also adopts interdisciplinary approach by incorporating a wide knowledge across sociology, psychology, anthropology, aesthetics and other subjects. The contextual inquiry for theory building derives from contemporary Chinese fashion, in considering its current position in the global fashion market and strong influences on the academia and industry. Nine emerging designers from Hong Kong and mainland China are selected as case study research. Under the guidance of grounded theory methodology, data are collected through document review, interview and observation. Theory is formulated after the coding process. Analysis of the data reveals a close relationship between meaning and accompanying social context. Such results accordingly demonstrate the nature of this study as social semiotics and suggest a potential means to construe fashion and clothing in terms of social context. This study contributes to the literature in three particular ways: 1) Theoretically, this study takes semiotic resources as its starting point and deciphers fashion and clothing in a social dimension. As an initiative to theorize real fashion and clothing, the study has significance for fashion studies, social semiotics and many other domains. 2) Practically, this study develops theory in a practice environment and examines meaning in light of practitioners' viewpoints, through which to gain in-depth understanding of fashion and clothing as a social phenomenon. The theoretical frameworks arising from design practices facilitate a new method for practitioners and the audience to interpret fashion and clothing and enhance their communicative skills. 3) Methodologically, this study integrates grounded theory methodology with case study research for theory building. In the meanwhile, the study extends into fashion and clothing the systemic functional modeling of the "architecture" of language (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2014; Matthiessen, 2007a), which sees the organization of fashion and clothing semiotic systems ranging from global to local dimensions. Additionally, this study draws on a "trinocular perspective" to investigate fashion and clothing, namely, "from above", "from below" and "from roundabout" (Matthiessen, 2007b). The triangulation of methodological principles are evidenced to be necessary, which thus give future research insights into fashion and clothing as a semiotic construction for communication.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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