时尚,另一种宗教?

三年前,我在《观念的进化》一文中,把时尚用做了我的观念进化模型的一个实例(另一个是宗教),我把时尚描述为对身份识别符号的模仿与反模仿之间的一种不断升级的军备竞赛(arm race):

5. 时尚,另一种宗教?

时尚的生成和流行过程,是宗教之外的又一个观念自组织的典范,从发生机制上看,它与宗教十分相似,所以,把时尚称做一种现代宗教,不算太离谱。

富与贫、贵与贱、博学与无知、高雅与粗鲁、悠闲与劳碌,人的这些差异,常常会影响他们在对消费品和生活方式的选择,这种差别在某些方面——比如服饰、住宅、随身物品、交通工具等——表现得特别明显,当这些差距逐渐拉开而变得易于辨认时,人们就会通过其中最明显的某几种差异来识别一个人的贫富等级、地位高低、教育程度,甚至生活经历和职业。而一旦人们意识到这一点,常常又会反过来刻意的明确这些差异,状况相近的人们会有意识的调整他们的消费品和生活方式,不约而同的向那些最易于识别的款式和品质靠拢聚集,最终,整个社会围绕着几种典型消费品,自动形成一个层次分明的栅格状结构,这一分层化的自组织过程就叫时尚。

如果仅仅看到上面的分层结构,那就没有抓住时尚的精妙之处,时尚之所以如此激动人心,重要的是它的结构是在不断运动变化之中保持的。当层次结构日益显现或者已然明朗时,那些面临着为选择某个将要厕身其中的阶层而作决定的人,常常会将目光投向他们的“上”方,选择一个包括了许多条件优于自己的人的阶层。这种向上靠的倾向使得每个阶层中那些财富地位等条件最优的人的生活方式成为被模仿的对象。然而,一旦这些被模仿对象意识到与自己同处一个阶层的,多数是条件比自己差的人,这一发现会让他们感到恼火。

为了摆脱与乡巴佬为伍的屈辱感,这些被模仿者只好不断地花样翻新,以便与模仿者拉开距离,而后者一旦发现新花样已经成为时尚,总是精神抖擞地奋起直追,就在这你追我赶之中,时尚的浪潮涌动起来了,一波又一波的潮涌中,追逐的双方都兴致盎然,乐此不疲,劲头丝毫不亚于热忱的宗教信徒。每一波时尚的浪潮,都将一组关于消费和生活方式的新观念,从最初的一小撮人那里,逐级向下,传播到几个阶层甚至整个社会。

正如权力在宗教传播中——因为“价值C”的缘故——曾起到巨大的推动作用,商业力量在时尚流行中——也因为同样的缘故——起到了类似的也许是大得多的推动作用。消费品的经营者首先去努力发现、识别出(甚至制造出)那些最能代表身份的东西,通过自己的产品加以明确化、符号化,然后向那些热衷于向上靠的时尚追逐者们推销这些符号;等这一波浪潮渐趋平静,他们又转过头来,告诉那些“领潮者”,这些旧东西已经显得太俗气了,不再配得上你的高贵身份,该换换花样了,于是另一波浪潮开始了。

最近读到Steven Pinker在HOW THE MIND WORKS一书中对时尚作了类似的阐述,相见恨晚:

Veblen proposed that the psychology of prestige was driven by three “pecuniary canons of taste”: conspicuous leisure, conspicuous consumption, and conspicuous waste. Status symbols are flaunted and coveted not necessarily because they are useful or attractive (pebbles, daisies, and pigeons are quite beautiful, as we rediscover when they delight young children), but often because they are so rare, wasteful, or pointless that only the wealthy can afford them. They include clothing that is too delicate, bulky, constricting, or stain-prone to work in, objects too fragile for casual use or made from unobtainable materials, functionless objects made with prodigious labor, decorations that consume energy, and pale skin in lands where the plebeians work in the fields and suntans in lands where they work indoors. The logic is: You can’t see all my wealth and earning power (my bank account, my lands, all my allies and flunkeys), but you can see my gold bathroom fixtures. No one could afford them without wealth to spare, therefore you know I am wealthy.

Conspicuous consumption is counterintuitive because squandering wealth can only reduce it, bringing the squanderer down to the level of his or her rivals. But it works when other people’s esteem is useful enough to pay for and when not all the wealth or earning power is sacrificed. If I have a hundred dollars and you have forty, I can give away fifty, but you can’t; I will impress others and still be richer than you. The principle has been confirmed from an unlikely source, evolutionary biology. Biologists since Darwin had been puzzled by displays like the peacock’s tail, which impresses the peahen but consumes nutrients, hinders movement, and attracts predators. The biologist Amotz Zahavi proposed that the displays evolved because they were handicaps. Only the healthiest animals could afford them, and females choose the healthiest birds to mate with. Theoretical biologists were initially skeptical, but one of them, Alan Grafen, later proved that the theory was sound.

Conspicuous consumption works when only the richest can afford luxuries. When the class structure loosens, or sumptuous goods (or good imitations) become widely available, the upper middle class can emulate the upper class, the middle class can emulate the upper middle class, and so on down the ladder. The upper class cannot very well stand by as they begin to resemble the hoi polloi; they must adopt a new look. But then the look is emulated once again by the upper middle class and begins to trickle down again, prompting the upper class to leap to yet a different look, and so on. The result is fashion. The chaotic cycles of style, in which the chic look of one decade becomes dowdy or slutty, nerdy or foppish in the next, has been explained as a conspiracy of clothing makers, an expression of nationalism, a reflection of the economy, and much else. But Quentin Bell, in his classic analysis of fashion, On Human Finery, showed that only one explanation works: people follow the rule, “Try to look like the people above you; if you’re at the top, try to look different from the people below you.”

(摘自Steven Pinker: HOW THE MIND WORKS,p.500)

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三年前,我在《观念的进化》一文中,把时尚用做了我的观念进化模型的一个实例(另一个是宗教),我把时尚描述为对身份识别符号的模仿与反模仿之间的一种不断升级的军备竞赛(arm race):

5. 时尚,另一种宗教?

时尚的生成和流行过程,是宗教之外的又一个观念自组织的典范,从发生机制上看,它与宗教十分相似,所以,把时尚称做一种现代宗教,不算太离谱。

富与贫、贵与贱、博学与无知、高雅与粗鲁、悠闲与劳碌,人的这些差异,常常会影响他们在对消费品和生活方式的选择,这种差别在某些方面——比如服饰、住宅、随身物品、交通工具等——表现得特别明显,当这些差距逐渐拉开而变得易于辨认时,人们就会通过其中最明显的某几种差异来识别一个人的贫富等级、地位高低、教育程度,甚至生活经历和职业。而一旦人们意识到这一点,常常又会反过来刻意的明确这些差异,状况相近的人们会有意识的调整他们的消费品和生活方式,不约而同的向那些最易于识别的款式和品质靠拢聚集,最终,整个社会围绕着几种典型消费品,自动形成一个层次分明的栅格状结构,这一分层化的自组织过程就叫时尚。

如果仅仅看到上面的分层结构,那就没有抓住时尚的精妙之处,时尚之所以如此激动人心,重要的是它的结构是在不断运动变化之中保持的。当层次结构日益显现或者已然明朗时,那些面临着为选择某个将要厕身其中的阶层而作决定的人,常常会将目光投向他们的“上”方,选择一个包括了许多条件优于自己的人的阶层。这种向上靠的倾向使得每个阶层中那些财富地位等条件最优的人的生活方式成为被模仿的对象。然而,一旦这些被模仿对象意识到与自己同处一个阶层的,多数是条件比自己差的人,这一发现会让他们感到恼火。

为了摆脱与乡巴佬为伍的屈辱感,这些被模仿者只好不断地花样翻新,以便与模仿者拉开距离,而后者一旦发现新花样已经成为时尚,总是精神抖擞地奋起直追,就在这你追我赶之中,时尚的浪潮涌动起来了,一波又一波的潮涌中,追逐的双方都兴致盎然,乐此不疲,劲头丝毫不亚于热忱的宗教信徒。每一波时尚的浪潮,都将一组关于消费和生活方式的新观念,从最初的一小撮人那里,逐级向下,传播到几个阶层甚至整个社会。

正如权力在宗教传播中——因为“价值C”的缘故——曾起到巨大的推动作用,商业力量在时尚流行中——也因为同样的缘故——起到了类似的也许是大得多的推动作用。消费品的经营者首先去努力发现、识别出(甚至制造出)那些最能代表身份的东西,通过自己的产品加以明确化、符号化,然后向那些热衷于向上靠的时尚追逐者们推销这些符号;等这一波浪潮渐趋平静,他们又转过头来,告诉那些“领潮者”,这些旧东西已经显得太俗气了,不再配得上你的高贵身份,该换换花样了,于是另一波浪潮开始了。

最近读到Steven Pinker在HOW THE MIND WORKS一书中对时尚作了类似的阐述,相见恨晚:

Veblen proposed that the psychology of prestige was driven by three "pecuniary canons of taste": conspicuous leisure, conspicuous consumption, and conspicuous waste. Status symbols are flaunted and coveted not necessarily because they are useful or attractive (pebbles, daisies, and pigeons are quite beautiful, as we rediscover when they delight young children), but often because they are so rare, wasteful, or pointless that only the wealthy can afford them. They include clothing that is too delicate, bulky, constricting, or stain-prone to work in, objects too fragile for casual use or made from unobtainable materials, functionless objects made with prodigious labor, decorations that consume energy, and pale skin in lands where the plebeians work in the fields and suntans in lands where they work indoors. The logic is: You can't see all my wealth and earning power (my bank account, my lands, all my allies and flunkeys), but you can see my gold bathroom fixtures. No one could afford them without wealth to spare, therefore you know I am wealthy.

Conspicuous consumption is counterintuitive because squandering wealth can only reduce it, bringing the squanderer down to the level of his or her rivals. But it works when other people's esteem is useful enough to pay for and when not all the wealth or earning power is sacrificed. If I have a hundred dollars and you have forty, I can give away fifty, but you can't; I will impress others and still be richer than you. The principle has been confirmed from an unlikely source, evolutionary biology. Biologists since Darwin had been puzzled by displays like the peacock's tail, which impresses the peahen but consumes nutrients, hinders movement, and attracts predators. The biologist Amotz Zahavi proposed that the displays evolved because they were handicaps. Only the healthiest animals could afford them, and females choose the healthiest birds to mate with. Theoretical biologists were initially skeptical, but one of them, Alan Grafen, later proved that the theory was sound.

Conspicuous consumption works when only the richest can afford luxuries. When the class structure loosens, or sumptuous goods (or good imitations) become widely available, the upper middle class can emulate the upper class, the middle class can emulate the upper middle class, and so on down the ladder. The upper class cannot very well stand by as they begin to resemble the hoi polloi; they must adopt a new look. But then the look is emulated once again by the upper middle class and begins to trickle down again, prompting the upper class to leap to yet a different look, and so on. The result is fashion. The chaotic cycles of style, in which the chic look of one decade becomes dowdy or slutty, nerdy or foppish in the next, has been explained as a conspiracy of clothing makers, an expression of nationalism, a reflection of the economy, and much else. But Quentin Bell, in his classic analysis of fashion, On Human Finery, showed that only one explanation works: people follow the rule, "Try to look like the people above you; if you're at the top, try to look different from the people below you."

(摘自Steven Pinker: HOW THE MIND WORKS,p.500)



已有5条评论

  1. 小英雄 @ 2011-07-04, 18:16

    有点道理,我觉的现代社会,宗教的代替品有很多,比如科学

    [回复]

    辉格 回复:

    嗯,古代宗教实际上是个容纳了许多职能的庞杂体系,信仰、哲学、知识传承、教育、仪式、神圣性包装、心理服务、婚姻登记、生死记录……,其中大部分后来都被其他专门系统接管了

    [回复]

  2. 海德沙龙(HeadSalon) » Blog Archive » 其实环保主义者并不傻 @ 2012-03-21, 00:33

    […] 相关文章时尚,另一种宗教?饭文#V7: 纯天然概念是否值得被引入法律?女性炫耀性消费与性策略饭文#H6: 为何年轻人都爱往大城市里挤?香烟价格:硬 vs 软,一点数据为何最贵的中华香烟是软盒的?观念的进化我又被感动了饭文#W6: 过年习俗的未来饭文#W5: 春运压力不会因城市定居而减轻 […]

  3. 辉格 @ 2012-08-08, 02:28

    WSJ:中国消费者风格渐改 无标识奢侈品成新宠 http://cn.wsj.com/gb/20120807/bch141437.asp

    [回复]

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