Social Processes | Annette Lynch

Annette Lynch

Social Processes

Social Processes of Fashion Diffusion

Chapter Objectives:

1.  To review the social processes involved in the diffusion of fashion in small groups.

2. To describe how socially defined fashion norms develop and evolve within small groups.

3. To examine the influence of reference groups on conformity in fashion adoption.

Key Terms/Concepts

Emergent social norms:


Reference group:

Membership group:

Peer group:

Aspirational group:

Social power:

Risky shift phenomenon:


Consumer socialization:

Informational social influence:



Standardized dress:

Career apparel:

1.  The Social Context of the Fashion Process

    A. The initiation of the fashion process is influenced by a wide range of social forces in the consumer's environment.

    B. The diversity of innovation-oriented consumers virtually guarantees the regular origination of new fashion trends.

    C. New fashions regularly gain popularity among many consumers.

2.  Emergent Social Norms and Group Behavior

    A.  The fashion process involves group acceptance of socially defined norms of what is considered fashionable.

    B.  Emergent norms approach (Muzafer Sherif)

3. Fashion Diffusion in Small Groups

    A. Types of small groups

    - Membership:

    - Peer:

    - Aspirational:

    B. Behavior in small groups

    - Formation

    - Cooperative interaction

    - Cohesiveness

    - Social communication

    - Roles of group members

        a. Social Power

        b. Risky Shift Phenomenon

    C. Consumer socialization through groups

        a. Socialization

        b. Consumer socialization:

    D. Fashion adoption, reference groups, and conformity

        a. Reference group and conformity theory

            - Normative Function:

            - Comparison Function:

        b. Reference groups and conformity in fashion adoption

            - Informational social influence:

            - Normative social influence:

            - Research suggests that groups can apply social pressure to induce group dress conformity

    E.  Fashion Adoption and Group Identification

        a. Conformity becomes symbol of group membership

        b. Reference group sets the basic standard for identification

    F.  Leadership in small groups

        a. Not all groups have clear fashion leaders

        b. Social groups with no fashion leadership, follow reference groups

        c. Fashion leadership is a specialized skill that does not always coincide with other forms of leadership ability

    G. Fashion Diffusion in Organizational Groups

        a. Uniforms

        b. Quasi-uniforms

        c. Standardized dress

        d. Career apparel and dress codes