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Nordic Russian and Eastern European Studies Conference
Intentions, Interactions and Paradoxes in Post-Socialist Space
24-25 May 2013 in Helsinki, Finland


Fashion and social structure in contemporary Russia
Chair: Anna-Maria Salmi (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland)
Discussant: Olga Shevchenko (Williams College, USA)
Olga Gurova (University of Helsinki, Finland):"People dress so brightly here!”: Exploring social distinctions through clothing in Russia
Margarita Kuleva (National Research University - Higher School of Economics, St Petersburg, Russia): Fashion in everyday life of Russian working-class youth: Constructing class, gender and age

Fashion arises in producing and communicating social structure of societies. Communicating social structure through fashion and clothing is particularly important in societies undergoing transition, such as Russia, because their members are characterized by uncertainties of positions. Fashion and material goods can thus offer compelling symbolic and material grounds for highlighting both structure and its transformations. This panel will discuss discourses, concepts and practices and the role of fashion and clothing in producing and communicating social structure in contemporary Russia. The social structure will be considered and analyzed at two levels – first, the level of class, age and gender and, second, the organizational level. Following questions will be addressed: how individuals position themselves within social structure by means of clothing; how they make social structure meaningful for themselves and others; how they produce class and status claims through discourses and everyday practices; how they produce and reproduce social boundaries through clothing in everyday life, and so on. The presented papers are based on empirical data recently collected in several cities across Russia.