Thursday, 13 May 2010


Is the power of physical appearance and influence used intentionally within violence and dictatorship?

The question for this dissertation derived form a fascination with the way in which large numbers of people use clothing to portray an image of self confidence whether intentionally or sub-consciously, keeping in mind the psychological factor of why they feel the need to do so.
 Within subcultures the image is an important symbol, an essential way to display a number of aspects, from status to identity, elevating ones self worth, a factor which is apparent within images of social and political leaders/icons.

Taking an in depth look at specific symbols held with subcultures and important individuals through out history, questioning why the negative is associated with each and the power a symbol holds over the every day people. Such subjects would be; Skinheads, Adolf Hitler & the Nazi party, Mods, Queen Elizabeth 1, Queen Victoria & the British Empire and Punks to name a few, looking at the reasons we subconsciously hold a cemented assumption of individual subcultures and imagery just from certain features i.e. mopeds are associated with mods, safety pins are associated with punks etc, also how these ideologies developed. In regards to leaders within history, focusing on how their image and influence has a long lasting meaning and how they are symbols within their own right i.e. Queen Elizabeth I, her identity is seen as all powerful and all conquering, due to her heroic act of dragging England form out the dark ages (A characteristic that is depicted in a number of paintings.) Researching their effects upon society and individuals, leading onto subcultures, further exploring the way in which dominance and power is used and encouraged within such.

As the dissertation develops looking at how these ‘powerful’ symbols and images i.e. the German Nazis, are/were used to scare and threaten people into submission or recruitment. The implied violence of a symbol, image and group e.g. do skinheads use their image to threaten people? Why is their image intimidating?

 I intend to dissect a social group and subculture down to its raw value, ideals and their psychology, exploring the idea that their obsession with intimidating others and building a concrete image could possibly be a way of covering up mass insecurity within social class, such as the skinheads conveyed a dominant and aggressive image to make up for their lack a authority within mainstream society and a feeling of disregard towards them. I intend to answer the question “Is the ultimate security ‘blanket’ to intimidate people via your image, who you associate with and your influence, leaving you no longer vulnerable to others?” Looking at resources such as ‘Delinquent Boys’ (Albert Cohan) also ‘Subculture: the meaning of style’ (Dick Hebdige), films such as ‘This is England’ (Shane Meadows), ‘Quadrophenia’ (Franc Roddam) to name a few.

Extracting evidence in nature that shows a natural instinct to impersonate the aggressor in order to avoid becoming the victim of such, I will look at examples within society and delve into the reasons why such individuals have taken on this defense strategy also the taboos associated with such, for example a gay man taking on the image of a Skinhead could be seen as an insult to the gay community and moral, the same can be said for the black community although the skinhead culture derived from black – Jamaican culture, it has since transgressed into a racist and fascist movement, which is incredibly apparent within today’s Russia. (I use Skinheads as an example.) I intend to look at the views of such individuals whom choose to lower their chance of being attacked by impersonating their aggressors, taking onboard reasons for doing so and resulting effects, either from their native community or their chosen one, also whether they take on the responsibility of using such an identifiable and intimidating persona and exploring how we, the on looking, chooses to view and act towards this individual.

I wish to reveal a possible aspect of subculture, which is the primitive instinct to face fears and build security within groups rather than as a single entity, within such a complex civilization such as our own the raw animal instinct is covered up and lost within society due to a need to be sophisticated and intensely superior than our primate ancestors. Is the formation of gangs and subculture a ruptured pipe within the plumbing of society that allows the animal instinct to dominate and conquer, eat or be eaten, be seen in all its glory? I also wish to touch upon sub cultural theory and take a more in depth look at the basis and psychology behind it. The idea that the average working class male (especially) goes through life having failed in the education system, unable to gain status within the world due to social background etc, although having being denied legitimately, the young working class male still desires such, thus developing in to a search by illegitimate means, resulting in gang formation etc and building their own hierarchy.

 This dissertation shall be a written one with accompanying imagery; I plan to lay the writings out as a book rather than a regular hand in. The out come of this dissertation aims to fully understand the lengths people will go to feel secure within themselves and society also the subconscious effect symbols hold, opening up a door to the way in which people choose to convey an internal desire regarding authority and identity through physical appearance and evidently answering the question “Is the power of physical appearance and influence used intentionally within violence and dictatorship?”

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