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Subcultures And The Meaning Of Style

1259 words - 6 pages

The Hijab Republic

“The meaning of subculture is always in dispute, and style is the area in which the opposing definitions clash with most dramatic force” (Hebdige, 1979: 3). Throughout this essay I would draw and analyse the Hijab republic subculture. Further referencing on the theories of; Semiology by Gillian Rose (2001), The Meaning of Style by Dick Hebdige (1979), and Dress and Globalization by Margaret Maynard (2004). The purpose of this essay is to further dissect the Hijab republic as a subculture, the reasons behind it and semiotically decode their dress as intentional communication. In order to do this, I will firstly, conduct a semiotic analysis to an ...view middle of the document...

They depict those wearing hijab as repressed individuals who cannot express themselves or their desires. For Muslim women themselves, wearing hijab is a symbol of their dedication to God and an endeavor to gain his pleasure. Yuna and many other members of the Hijab Republic go against this predigest viewpoint in order to expose how self-empowered they feel by wearing the hijab. Members of the Hijab Republic use their clothing as codes to blur the demarcation line between Us and Them.

The wave of hysteria in the media about the hijab is becoming more and more prevalent around the world as ‘Islamophobic’ policies target the hijab as a symbol of Islam. According to Humphries (2011) this is the driving force behind the Hijab Republic subculture. Hebdige (1979; 91) describes the ideological form as the labeling and re-definition of deviant behavior by dominant groups in society and is used to combat this discomfort. There are many misconceptions and hatred towards the hijab and it is virtually impossible to narrate all the distressing incidents involving the hijab. The subculture tries to protest against this by disregarding negative remarks and associating the hijab with western fashion trends in order to feel a part of the culture in which they grew up. The second form of incorporation which Hebdige (1779; 92) identifies is the commodity form, ‘the conversion of sub-cultural signs into mass produced objects’. Western designers like Paul Smith (see figure 02), Jean Paul Gaultier and Yohji Yamamoto were all recently inspired by the headscarf revival. This makes it difficult to maintain the true meaning of the headscarf now that it is filtered down into commercial fashion.

Maynard (2004; 88) suggests that all clothing is a form of communication;
Their meanings alter over time and can be differently interpreted especially across cultures. Those who accept dress to be a non-verbal mode of communication need to accept that social groupings are no longer categoric or fully exclusionary, and as a result we must acknowledge that there are many different, often ambiguous, modalities through which dress meanings are constituted.
According to Racovic (2011) even though the hijab is an identity maker often perceived by western society as a practice that oppresses women, it is considered by those who embrace it to be an identitarian unit that emits a familiar set of meanings (such as religion, communal sense, modesty and relationships with outsiders). The Hijab republic helps build sociality amongst those who embrace and support it, and continuously try and change westerns perceptions of the hijab into a non-territorial context. The hijab linked with western fashion trends serves to express both their belonging and being, and is often employed to send a message to the outsiders. At times the outsiders themselves are constructing their own meaning of the message portrayed. Olin (1996; 208) explains that the ‘gaze’ can be considered a...

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