Worn Shoes: Identity, Memory and Footwear

Jenny Hockey, Rachel Dilley, Victoria Robinson, Alexandra Sherlock, February 2013, Sociological Research Online, vol. 18, issue 1

As we enter the last 4 months of the If the Shoe Fits project the team are analysing and writing up the data that has been gathered over the last 3 years. At the end of February the first of our publications made it into the peer-reviewed journal Sociological Research Online. This is an open access journal so is available for all to read.

Abstract:

This article raises questions about the role of footwear within contemporary processes of identity formation and presents ongoing research into perceptions, experiences and memories of shoes among men and women in the North of England. In a series of linked theoretical discussions it argues that a focus on women, fashion and shoe consumption as a feature of a modern, western ‘project of the self’ obscures a more revealing line of inquiry where footwear can be used to explore the way men and women live out their identities as fluid, embodied processes. In a bid to deepen theoretical understanding of such processes, it takes account of historical and contemporary representations of shoes as a symbolically efficacious vehicle for personal transformation, asking how the idea and experience of transformation informs everyday and life course experiences of transition, as individuals put on and take off particular pairs of shoes. In so doing, the article addresses the methodological and analytic challenges of accessing experience that is both fluid and embodied.

Click here to read the full article and watch this space for future publications.

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