Tommy and the Nike Swoosh: The Semiotics of Class & Race
CASE STUDIES: (Select
Nike & The Scandal of Sweatshop Labor
Hip Hop Style: Class,
Race & Chic in Global Culture
1) You will begin
preparing your case study research by first reading all the assigned
materials for that class day. These are the texts everyone in class
will read in advance of your session. These reading will introduce
you to some important concepts, terms, and ideas. These will be
your primary texts as this unit contains very dense and in-depth
readings. We will need your help in raising these issues in class.
Spend a good portion of your time with these readings and then create
some limited research on that basis.
- Alex Kotlowitz,
"False Connections" (1999) in The Consumer Society Reader
- Goldman and Papson
"Advertising in the Age of Accelerated Meaning" in Consumer
- bell hooks, "Eating
the Other: Desire and Resistance" in Consumer Society Reader
2) You will want to
preview the video we will be screening in class, No Logos,
which addresses some of the intellectual issues. The first chapter
of Klein's book
is also online in pdf form.
3) Your cases study
should choose and research only ONE of these three issues. Note:
You may want to include semiotic analysis of actual advertisements
for these companies.
You will want to
observe, analyze and research the social meanings of "ghetto chic"
as well as the issues of consumption and consumer status in poor
communities. Bell hooks' article will help you understand some
of the critical issues involved in mainstream culture's appropriation
of blackness. Kotlowicz's article will help raise questions about
hegemonic narratives of status in poor communities. You may want
also to look at the way these products are marketed and analyze
- Marketing with
Colonial Chic (Banana Republic)
You will want to
do a case study of "colonial chic." To get a basic idea of this
see the section of bell hooks' essay on the Out of Africa syndrome.
You might want to research the basic concept of colonialism. Then,
go the websites and stores of chains that sell using these motifs
(such as Ethan Allen's colonial furniture line and Banana Republic).
Spend your energy analyzing the semiotics of these marketing experiences.