Tag Archives: Simmel

(Blog Post #4) Fashion in Brooklyn


My boyfriend’s father, who has lived in Williamsburg his entire life, told me that his childhood neighborhood was not always like this. Oh yeah. Once upon a time, Williamsburg was not the hip, trendy area that we know today. In recent years, the neighborhood has become gentrified. It is now largely inhabited by young, working professionals and people that are categorized as “hipsters.” The overwhelming presence of this subculture has strongly influenced the local merchants. Many restaurants in the area offer vegan options, gluten-free products, organic produce, and all that type of junk that you’d normally find at Whole Foods. Eating healthy is what’s in, even though I’ll never quite understand the hype behind those juice cleanses. (I have all my teeth. I don’t need to drink my vegetables.) These people have not only changed the demographic of the area, but they’ve also changed the entire lifestyle. With easy access to restaurants, bars, and public transportation, almost nobody drives, but be warned: If you choose to drive into Williamsburg, watch out for bicyclists! I swear, it seems like everybody and their mother rides their bike! Cold weather, warm weather –  it doesn’t matter, man. On the plus side, there are less gas emissions, and I’m all about saving good ‘ol Mother Earth.

As Simmel describes in “Fashion” (1904), living in a city such as Williamsburg promotes a certain lifestyle. Simmel states, “Since modern individuals tend to be detached from traditional anchors of social support, fashion allows the individual to signal or express their own personality or personal values.”Besides the food, another significant aspect is… well, fashion itself. I’ll be honest, a hot pink Juicy Couture tracksuit wouldn’t necessarily be considered as popular fashion in the ‘Burg. (No offense to the women who wear them. I bet those are really comfortable. You keep wearing what you love, honey.) I’ve come to understand that a Williamsburg woman’s idea of a stylish outfit isn’t necessarily something new, but something borrowed. No, I’m not describing one of those corny wedding traditions. I’m talking about Macklemore status: thrift shopping. It’s all about finding that diamond in the rough at a flea market, making it your own, and therefore making it new again (although there’s still a good chance it could have emerged from the mothball-ridden closet of its previous owner). When I go to visit Williamsburg, I think to myself, “Is this cool enough to wear?” It’s as if there’s this unspoken contest; everyone’s trying to “out-cool” each other, without being too obvious about it. So if I care too much about how I look, would that be too mainstream?

The more time I spend in Williamsburg, the more I realize that the city itself is kinda like a repurposed granny sweater.

(Hear me out. I’m getting to the point.)

Much like the inhabitants seek to find that diamond in the rough; that one of a kind piece at the thrift store, it appears that their neighborhood has also become a product of their fashion and refurbishing. These hipsters have brought new life into this neighborhood and made it their own. So, perhaps I’ll be able to tolerate their curiously perfect knobbed mustaches, and their rampant bicycles. They have cultivated a beautiful neighborhood that, in my opinion will stand the test of time and fashion.


(Blog Post #3) Individual vs. Society: An Ode to the Walmart Shopper


Have you ever people watched? I mean, not everyone does it for fun (*raises hand* guilty), but you know how it goes. You’ve been walking around all day, and you finally spot the first bench you’ve seen in 20 minutes. Relief is in sight! You make your way over to the seat, and you make yourself comfortable. You let out a sigh that’s half exhaustion and half relief. Once you’re all comfortable, you start to notice everyone walking around you. You see a lady pushing her fussy toddler in a stroller, a man who could easily be Hulk Hogan’s body double, and an elderly man who gingerly makes his way forward using his cane. (It’s amazing what you start to notice when your eyes aren’t glued to the screen of your phone every time you’re bored in public. Don’t lie, we all do it.)

I thought about this whole people-watching concept, and then I realized how relevant it is to Simmel’s 3 assumptions about the individual and society. Just to recap, they are:

  1. Individuals are both within and outside society.
  2. Individuals are both objects and subjects within networks of communicative interaction
  3. Individuals have the impulse to be self-fulfilling and self-completing, that is, they seek an integrated self-concept.

When we look at people around us, we have the power to decide what is deemed acceptable and what is considered deviant. Now, deviance is relative. What may be seen as deviant in one setting may be the norm in another. As for me, I love wearing Jordans. They’re comfortable shoes, and they look cool. More importantly, I feel cool when I wear them. If I wear them at QC, I sometimes get compliments on them. If I wear them in my 98% Caucasian neighborhood, I’m bound to get some strange, sideways looks. Apparently, I missed the memo that white girls aren’t allowed to wear certain sneakers.

If you’ve never been to http://www.peopleofwalmart.com before, you’re welcome. You’ve never really people-watched unless you’ve been to Walmart, let’s be honest. When we people-watch, these Walmart shoppers are the objects and subjects. Unfortunately, some of them are the object of cringe-worthy reactions, but they are also the subject of our attention. Adversely, we also become the subject of someone’s attention when we least expect it. And whether we like it or not, you’re bound to spot that Abercrombie model look-a-like as you’re stuffing an Auntie Anne’s pretzel into your mouth. We all have our moments. Shrug it off.

With all of these ads that are posted in the mall, it’s hard not to feel pressured. Vendors at those little kiosks try to come up to you and say, “Wear this! You’ll look sexy!” “Spray this perfume! We promise you won’t smell like your Great Aunt Nancy!” (<–Okay, so that one was a stretch, but you get the point.) We are constantly looking to improve upon ourselves by buying the latest technologies, following the latest fashion trends, and learning how to make those puke-colored green smoothies that everyone raves about. I mean, do you know how many self-help books are out there? A LOT. We are a society that constantly strives for perfection, and just when we think we’re satisfied, BOOM! Apple comes out with a brand new iPhone. Suddenly, your “smart” phone starts looking like it came off the set of “Saved By the Bell.” The truth is, we’ll never truly be happy unless we stop trying to use the money we don’t have to buy the things we don’t need in order to impress people we don’t even like.

So. The next time you go to the mall, I encourage you to sit down, put your phone in your pocket, and look at people. I mean, really look at people. We are all misfits in one way or another, so we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Perhaps that mother with the baby was once an Olympic swimmer. Maybe that body builder has a soft spot for his miniature poodle, Fifi. And maybe that elderly gentleman injured his leg when he fought for our country. Who knows? Maybe it’s not individual vs. society, but rather the individual vs self. So let’s be nice to ourselves, and let’s be understanding of others. Everyone’s just trying to get by. So let’s grab a hot Auntie Anne’s pretzel and call it a day. We all deserve it.

Treat yo’ self.

Blog #4 Simmel and Fashion

I for one, am not into fashion, but as I say this I am clearly somewhere on the fashion spectrum as it is impossible to remove yourself from it.  Simmel believed that those who didn’t follow fashion were still a part of fashion since it is a dichotomy and requires those who are to be considered the inverse of fashion followers.  This aspect of social life has two extremes, Imitation and Distinction.  Imitation is the style or trend that most people aim for.  According to Simmel, someone from the upper class will for lack of a better word, lead the general population.  It is conformity, to be like a certain “role model” in appearance, it’s widespread acceptance.  On the other side of the spectrum is Distinction, to be eccentric or apart from the crowd.  Only a few prefer this unique side.

Fashion is dynamic, always changing.  A unique style can become “popularized” and shift from Distinction to Imitation.  This process can also go the other way, from Imitation to Distinction.  To depict this we can look at an example from the past.  At one time, bell bottom jeans were “trendy”.  People conformed to this style and then after however many years it dissipated so if you were to wear them you would be seen as being eccentric.  As we saw in the video in class, fashion is not limited to just clothing, but also include things like hair style, tattoos, piercings, plastic surgery and etc.

Blog #3 Simmel and Sociability

I recall many times where I would find myself in an almost meaningless conversation with someone, typically a stranger and I never would have thought that someone would have studied that type of interaction.  The simple social interaction seems so minuscule and almost pointless that it’s rather shocking to realize that there is so much behind the concept.  Simmel uses the term sociability to categorize the interactions among people, specifically, interacting with others for the sake of the connection itself and not having any significance or ulterior motive.  It makes you wonder about all the past interactions you’ve had and seeing which ones fit into Simmel’s definition of sociability.  It makes you question every social interaction, maybe even as far as to question some social structures that we have in place today.  Why not after all?  Simmel questioned something that many of us may not even deem as near important.  Simmel seems to indirectly push us to want to ask why something is the way it is, no matter how basic.  At least I find myself asking that question.

Blog # 11: Simmel “Sociability, Stranger, Fashion, the Metropolis and Mental Life”

Sociability is very interesting in a sense that we as people in a modern world want to engage and interact with other people for the sake of connection. He states that our sociable conversation (talking) is the end in itself. An example of conversations being the end in itself is talking to classmates in your class or co-workers at work because you do not want to be socially awkward. In addition, there is other kind of sociability that epitomizes both things that everyone tries to do when they are interested in someone: flirting (coquetry). Flirtation is an erotic form of play “which finds in sociability it’s lightest, most playful, and yet its widest realization” (Edles & Appelrouth, 299). The female that is doing the flirting is trying to deny and consent hints together to draw the man on without letting matters come to a decision “to rebuff him without making him lose all hope” (Ibid, 299).  At the end the female decided to continue flirting or to stop all interaction with the man and ended. It is very true today that men and women do all these types of things to get what they want like (I do not know if it is a good example but) in bars there are women who hang in there to find a good man to be with but they do not seek what they are looking for.

“The stranger” that Simmel describe as “remote” or “indistinct” because there are some qualities that we share are general but that is the extent of the relationship. By saying the extent of the relationship is because there are things that we share such as, nationality, gender or race. Also this means that the stranger is not seen as a person (individual) but a as a person with particular characteristics that makes him different (similar to the type of person is). In addition the stranger is able to perform duties that the groups are unable to because they are “unfit”. The stranger is somewhat part of the group but in the outside the stranger has brought a positive contribution that is depended by the group. One example that Simmel mentioned was the European Jews and the traders.

Simmel ideas of fashion are the expression of individualism and make one distinctive of others. He mentioned that the individual will wear clothing that is trending and they are just following the latest fashion. Also, fashion cannot be vogue as Simmel mentioned because people adopt to fashion that is in and if you just want it to be vogue is to not allow general population do not adopt them. I think that it is interesting that some fashions that are in become to ‘last season’ (which Simmel mentioned that it goes dead). Fashion is another type of distinction class because the high class would have the up to date fashion and the lower class, which does not have enough money to pay for fashionable clothing. Fashion is indistinctive in different classes in society and another way to separate people by classes. In modern society there are people (it does not matter what classes you are in) who seeks fashionable items that is trending and they will go to affordable outlets or store to get that. (In my personal sense of fashion, I just wear what I like and would be ok with what body style I have.)

The Metropolis and mental life is the views on money and the psychological effects on individual level and other relationships. I think that in a fast past city as New York we try to gain the best job to gain the life we are able relax and have free time. Living in a metropolis world we have to live with everything that we do daily. We as people invest in all happenings and encounters that make up our own life. One thing that is important is that money is something is that is already standard in our daily life or our satisfaction of what we get from how much we have. The more money we have the more of how we are able to express ourselves and more relationships come about through money (which in doubt to me it is not a real relationship because people are just want to be with you for money). As what I can see from the reading Simmel wanted to show us the reader that in a metropolis society we are corrupt people in the level of individual and human spirit. In modern world and even in society in history do not like to communicate with people who are not good enough for people for high status (such as lower class or beggar class). I know that money represent in power but sometimes that money (if it has power) could help people who are struggling to live normal as possible. I think that people with money should help people in need and what I think Simmel was trying to say in my own words is that money corrupts the people because they strive for high position in society and stomp anyone that gets in away and form relationship with people to get connections. 

Blog 4- George Simmel and Society

Simmel defines society as “merely the name for a number of individuals connected by interaction…It is not a ‘substance,’ nothing concrete, but an event: It is the function of receiving and affecting the fate and development of one individual by another”. In class today we learned that we are all apart of different groups each with different forms of interaction. Some of these groups may be family, friends, work, and religious communities. Everyone acts a different way in each different group that is appropriate for that setting. For example the way we act with our friends may not be the same way we interact with our family or coworkers.

 Simmel defines sociability as the “play form of association”, driven by “amicability, breeding, cordiality and attractiveness of all kinds”. As human beings, it is natural to want to socialize with others, even if there is no cause or purpose. Some ways people find themselves in sociable conversations is by starting a conversation on the train with the person sitting across from them. There is no purpose, its just a friendly gesture and it makes the time pass quicker. There is no motive to these social interactions, its just something that happens naturally. People are social beings so this leads to a feeling of satisfaction for many. However, sociability is somewhat artificial, because there is no room for deep conversation. When someone asks, “how are you”, we are socialized to answer with “good”. No one would start listing their problems right away without getting into a much deeper form of conversation and connection. 


Blog #3 Simmel & Sociability (Duality of Flirtation)

Blog #3 Simmel & Sociability (Duality of Flirtation)

Georg Simmel emphasizes his concepts on the social interaction between individuals. The duality of interaction intrigued Simmel, duality meaning the “existence of one presupposes the existence of the other” (pp.270) He believed that when an individual engages in social interaction, the “individuality” is created out of two contradictory forces”(pp.271) Therefore within all interaction there will always be some type of duality, for example, conflict, fashion and flirtation.

Sociability (1910) is the act of interaction for pure pleasure. Simmel defines Sociability as the “play form of association, driven by amicability, breeding, cordiality and attractiveness of all kinds”(pp.297) One type of sociability Simmel mentions is Coquetry or as we may be more familiar with, flirtation. The interaction of flirtation between a man and woman, creates a pull between denial and consent. The woman, “coquette” pulls in the man with her attractiveness, but never really giving the man what he really wants, she playfully swings back and forth between the “erotic decision” yes and no, but “without stopping at one or the other” (pp.299) For Simmel, the duality of flirtation is a game of possibilities.

To Simmel, sociability interactions are the most significant and meaningful ,due to the fact that they are out of pure pleasure and not goal oriented. In modern day, we make sense of Simmel’s concept of Sociability, for me, I now understand the duality and contradictory forces within an interaction, coquetry being one of them.