Consuming the (Postmodern) Self: Sneaker Customization and the Symbolic Creation of Meaning and Identity
Wallace, Brandon Tyler
Andrews, David L
MetadataShow full item record
With regard to the centrality of symbolic cultural consumption in late capitalism (Jameson, 1991; Mandel, 1978), this thesis broadly details how consumers negotiate meaning and construct identity through engagement with cultural commodities. I examine this phenomenon through the athletic sneaker: a commodity that’s value largely derives from the cultural meanings it exhibits (Baudrillard, 1983; Miner, 2009; Turner, 2015). Specifically, I analyze sneaker customization, or the act of personal modification of traditional sneakers. Drawing from 15 in-depth interviews with individuals who have experience with sneaker customization, I explicate the various meanings that participants attach to sneaker customization, along with articulating its emergence, current position, implications and significance within its broader sociocultural contexts. This thesis contributes to understandings of how everyday individuals engage with popular cultural practices – such as sneaker customization – to create and define the means of their existence amidst the societal conditions with which they are confronted (Hall, 1996).