Idols of the Tribe: Brand Veneration, Group Identity, and the Impact of School Uniform Policies

By Jamison, David J. | Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, January 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Idols of the Tribe: Brand Veneration, Group Identity, and the Impact of School Uniform Policies


Jamison, David J., Academy of Marketing Studies Journal


ABSTRACT

The imposition of school uniform policies across the country presents an interesting opportunity for marketing researchers to examine the behavior of consumers in response to real world changes in the social context of consumption. School uniform policies are especially interesting phenomena in that they often seek to change the consumption patterns of young consumers and in doing so, change their behaviors in a specified direction. This paper utilizes the context of a school uniform policy to explore general consumption attitudes of school-aged children toward their clothing. The concept of "brand veneration " is introduced here as a way of thinking about the psychological and social importance that the students in this study place on their clothing. An analogy is developed here linking the emphasis on brand named clothing by students to the use of totems by tribal groups. Data derived from interviews, focus groups and the words of the students themselves, as presented in the analysis of written essays, form the basis for the analogy. Larger issues of the role of symbols in the formation and maintenance of group identity are considered.

INTRODUCTION

This paper utilizes a case study approach in examining a recently implemented school uniform policy in order to explore more general issues of adolescent consumption. It expands the discussion beyond the policy implications of the movement and into basic research on consumption and social influences. The focus of school uniform movements on enhancing the quality of the educational experience in public schools as well as public safety makes the issue important from a public policy standpoint (Crockett and Wallendorf, 1998). More directly related to the present discussion, however, is the occasionally expressed goal of eliminating social boundaries within the school through the elimination the clothing that contributes to boundary formation and maintenance. Several key rationalizations have been forwarded by proponents of uniform policies (Crockett and Wallendorf, 1998). The major justifications for such policies include the following: Uniform policies; (1) eliminate outward evidence of class/income disparities, (2) reduce incidences of theft/violence over expensive brand names, (3) head off the possibility of gang violence resulting from the purposeful or accidental display of gang colors/symbols, (4) eliminate general distractions over the types of clothes worn or not worn by students, (5) recognizes the shared commitment among students of learning as the most important duty, and, (6) creates a sense of community within the school.

Opponents of uniform policies argue that the emphasis on uniform policies attract attention away from other policy changes that could and should be made toward improving the school environment and the process of learning. They also argue that school uniforms punitively constrain self-expression manifested through dress and therefore impinge on the rights of children.

Marketing scholars should be especially aware and interested in the implementations and implications of these policies since the policies often seek to directly address potentially negative consequences ranging from the promotion of "crass materialism"; to violence and theft of heavily demanded clothes; to marketing influences on children's preference formation and consequent behavior (see for example Pollay, 1986).

It is posited here that clothes, and specifically brand named clothes, are among the most important symbolic representations of group identity and belongingness within the subcultures of late childhood-early adolescence in the US. Mass merchandising, mass media and the convergence of social norms that result from the two have resulted in the spread of youthful culture, particularly its material manifestations, to communities throughout the US and the world The debate over school uniform policies provides something of a "critical incident" in American history that can shed light on the pervasive role of fashion and materialism in the lives of young people. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Idols of the Tribe: Brand Veneration, Group Identity, and the Impact of School Uniform Policies
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.