Publication details

Clothing and public order

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Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Law

Description It is not often that (legal) research would find the issues of clothes interesting because it is (mostly) not regulated by (positive) law. However, sociologically, fashion and clothing have been analyzed by many influential scholars such including Barthes (System of fashion, 1983; Language of fashion, 2004), for decades. Fortunately, in recent years, there have been also interdisciplinary projects dealing with this topic (eg. Watt, 2013). But how exactly and why does it concern public order? In an ongoing project, we are exploring the possibilities of using the social representations approach in analysis of legal concepts. Social representations approach approaches the meaning and understanding as a collective elaboration ‘of a social object by the community for the purpose of behaving and communicating’ (Moscovici 1963), that is the result of social construction that performs a symbolic role, representing an object to a group of persons (Wachelke 2012, 730). Social representations approach offers various methodological tools to explore these results of social construction and vague legal concepts are such results of social construction. In this part of the project, we have conducted fourteen semi-structured interviews with members of legal academia. Our main goal has been to explore their social representation of the concept of public order. In the course of these semi-structured interviews, we have explored various dimensions of “public order” as well as had our participants to evaluate model situations as to their being in conflict with “public order”. We have come across an interesting revelation: Although we did not address the issue of clothing in any way, some of our participants brought the topic up themselves, indicating that they believed certain clothing choices are capable to disrupt public order. Moreover, since they brought it up themselves when prompted for examples, some even considered it to be a typical example of such a disruption. Since we never asked about clothing nor implied anything like that would have anything to with public order, the references to clothing popped up in various contexts of our interviews. In our paper, we show several connections between clothing and law mentioned in the interviews and discuss if and under which circumstances clothing can be seen as a part of public order.
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