The purpose of the study was to apply seven propositions of symbolic interactionism by Manis and Meltzer (1978, p. 78) and four assumptions of Kaiser's (1997, 59-61) contextual framework to appearance management in everyday interaction. We are born naked but are buried or cremated with clothes on. Therefore, it is important to examine the impact of clothes and appearance in everyday interaction within the pre-mentioned frameworks. The application consisted of looking at clothing and appearance related symbols used in everyday life at both micro and macro levels. Micro-level focussed on the use of symbols at the individual level, and Macro-level represented both societal and cultural level symbols. The intent was not to take assumptions and propositions for granted to understand the conceptualization because common sense is not very common. Findings revealed that people use appearance and clothing related symbols in their lives to develop and sustain their selves as members of the society that they are part of. Use of appearance and clothing related symbols in everyday interactions can be both effective and ineffective depending on the sharedness of the meanings of the artifacts and mentifacts. Several examples of appearance and clothing related symbols used by the interacting human beings at the individual, societal, and cultural levels were found. The reported work has implications for understanding symbolic interactionism theories and contextual framework better than taking the assumptions for granted. The presentation will discuss the implications and examples in greater detail and specificity than presented in this abstract.
Keywords: Contextual Framework, Dress as Communicator, Symbolic Interactionism, Visual Communication
Dr. Usha Chowdhary
Professor, Human Environmental Studies, Central Michigan University