unit eleven
tommy & the nike swoosh:
the semiotics of race & class



cultural artifact: fashion

CASE STUDIES: Nike & The Scandal of Sweatshop Labor;
Hip Hop Style: Class, Race & Chic in Global Culture

Public Enemy It Takes a Nation of Millions

reading assignment:

  • alex kotlowitz, "false connections" (1999) in the consumer society reader
  • bell hooks, "eating the Other: desire and resistance" in consumer society reader
  • Henry Giroux, "Consuming Social Change: The United Colors of Bennetton"(ELECTRONIC RESERVE)
  • The Theory Toolbox "Differences," pp.175-188

in class screening:



In the age of the brand, logos are everywhere. But why do some of the world’s best-known brands find themselves on the wrong end of the spray paint can – the targets of anti-corporate campaigns by activists and protestors? No Logo, based on the best-selling book by Canadian journalist and activist Naomi Klein, reveals the reasons behind the backlash against the increasing economic and cultural reach of multinational companies.

Analyzing how brands like Nike,The Gap, and Tommy Hilfiger became revered symbols worldwide, Klein argues that globalization is a process whereby corporations discovered that profits lay not in making products (outsourced to low-wage workers in developing countries), but in creating branded identities people adopt in their lifestyles.

Using hundreds of media examples, No Logo shows how the commercial takeover of public space, destruction of consumer choice, and replacement of real jobs with temporary work – the dynamics of corporate globalization – impact everyone, everywhere. It also draws attention to the democratic resistance arising globally to challenge the hegemony of brands.

at the end of this unit you should be able to define these key terms:

  • appropriation
  • commodification of difference
  • colonialism

additional resources:

case study guidelines for student presentations

external links:

adbusters: the smell of swoosh

read the intro chapter to Naomi klein's no logo (online printable pdf)

listen to the whole debate on wnyc: no logo v. pro logo!


globalization FAQ