Markets in Fashion: A phenomenological approach PDF by Patrik Aspers


Markets in Fashion: A Phenomenological Approach
By Patrik Aspers

Markets in Fashion A Phenomenological Approach


Foreword by
Karin Knorr Cetina viii
Preface to the second edition xiii
Preface to the first edition xiv
1 Introduction 1
2 The study of markets 11
3 An overview of the fashion photography business 27
4 Fashion photographers as producers 56
5 The consumers of fashion photographs 95
6 The two markets for fashion photography 136
7 Towards a phenomenological sociology 155
Appendix A: a guide to phenomenological sociology 165
Appendix B: empirical work 195
Notes 204
Bibliography 231
Index 243

Preface to the second edition
I am very pleased that this book is republished. No major changes are made, though I have updated the literature, and made some minor alterations. The discussion of the pictures is more extensive in this second edition. Most of the changes, however, are made to clarify the phenomenological position. A Foreword that introduces the text by Professor Karin Knorr Cetina is also included.

In the work with this second edition I have benefited from the positive reviews the first edition received. My research has also been discussed at several seminars and talks since the publication of the first edition. I have, for example, presented my research at the University of Lund, where I was invited by Antoinette Hetzler, and also the role of phenomenology, at the Methodology Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where Martin Bauer invited me, and at the lifeworld seminar at Gothenburg University, where I was invited by Jan Bengtsson. These seminars have especially contributed to the improvements I have made to Appendix A, on the empirical phenomenology developed in this book. The three anonymous reviewers have also made valuable suggestions about improvements that I have incorporated into this edition. It is my pleasure to have finished this edition as an academic visitor at the Department of Sociology, the LSE during the year 2003–2004. Nigel Dodd and Don Slater have been my very generous hosts. The visit has been made possible by a scholarship from the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT). Finally, I would like to acknowledge the support from the Axel and Margaret Ax: son Johnson Foundation.

I have been encouraged by Robert Langham, senior editor at Routledge to publish this edition. This has made it a pleasure to work on the text. Caroline Dahlberg has given me many valuable suggestions, and constant support, which I am extremely grateful for. Every effort has been made to contact copyright holders for their permission to reprint material in this book. The publishers would be grateful to hear from any copyright holder who is not acknowledged here and will undertake to rectify any errors or omissions in future editions of this book.


This book has three purposes. The first is to understand and thereby explain the market for fashion photography in Sweden. The second is to present an ethnography of this market. The third, and more general, purpose is to incorporate the phenomenological approach to the social sciences, which I believe to be useful for ethnographic studies.

Moreover, only through phenomenology have researchers seriously approached the subjective perspective of the actors, a task I take to be essential for a scientific explanation in the social sciences. I address a phenomenon that I conceptualize as a market. A market means, in brief, that people buy and sell certain goods or services. In this case it is fashion photographs that professional photographers produce and for which customers pay (cf. Leifer 1985:442). A further reason to conceptualize this phenomenon as a market is that this is what the actors themselves do. Markets today clearly constitute an important topic in the economy. Though sociologists have conducted some research on markets, much more remains to be done. One important task is to analyze different types of markets. I will study a real market in which aesthetic values are central: the market for fashion photography. In this study I do not aim, but rather hope, to illuminate other markets of a similar type, such as those for designers’ work, clothes, furniture or other products.

Other examples are the markets for art directors, copywriters, stylists, or models. Naturally, this study will also be useful for understanding the markets for photography, and especially fashion photography, in other cities and countries. In sum, my hope is that the study will be especially useful for studies of all markets that include aesthetic values. Henceforth I call these markets aesthetic. These markets are typically found in the socalled cultural industries.

Over time, aesthetic markets have become more common and more important in terms of turnover. Moreover, these markets fit in very well with discussions of the “New Economy,” which can be characterized, for example, by highly skilled employees, quickly changing conditions, service work, relatively low costs of capital and an increased number of self-employed persons. The market for fashion photography, as I will show, shares some of these traits. Consequently, a study like this may contribute to the understanding of the New Economy.

In this introductory Chapter I will discuss some of the research questions, which are best addressed by first explaining the market for fashion photography. After that I briefly turn to fashion and fashion photography, and then discuss photography in relation to art and craft. The following section gives a view of the practice of fashion photography. Finally, I outline the structure of the book.

Research questions
To understand the market for fashion photography may require the researcher to address a series of questions. One of the most intriguing questions—though not necessarily the most important—has to do with style. How does a photographer’s style become “hot” and create a trend in the market? But there are many more questions. How can a photographer who cannot change the lens in his camera shoot for some of the most highly regarded fashion magazines? How is it that a photographer has to pay to get some assignments, but earns more on other assignments, though she does the same thing? Why do some photographers’ names appear in the bylines of advertisements when others do not? How can magazines be produced every week with fashion pictures that rarely allow the viewer to see what the clothes look like? How can a magazine that sells very few copies still set the tone on fashion photography for the market? How is it that the buyers of the magazines and the wearers of the clothes are between 12 and 100 years old but mostmodels range in age from 13 to about 23 years old? How do producers see differences among themselves as well as among the customers? How is it that fashion pictures look differently (compare, for example, Plates VIII, X and XV)? As the study proceeds, it will become clear that questions like these cannot be answered in isolation. I will answer them by focusing on the essential question of this study: how does one understand the market for fashion photography in Sweden?

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