The T-shirt: Canvas for Signs of the Times


(c)Taylor & Francis, 2011. The definitive version was published in International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, Volume 4 Issue 2, July 2011. doi:10.1080/17543266.2011.572564 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17543266.2011.572564)


Changes in T-shirt messages over time were compared with changes in the cultural milieu. Messages on T-shirts worn by college students on a Southeastern university campus were collected (152 messages in 1983 and 132 in 2006). The changes in US culture from the 1980s to the beginning of the twenty-first century were examined. The theoretical framework was based on the concept of the Zeitgiest [sic]. Messages were categorised and six categories were identified and named based on the content. Highly significant differences were found in distribution of messages among categories and distribution of messages between positive and negative categories for the 2 years. Messages were more likely to be negative/offensive in 2006 than in 1983, which is consistent with the declining cultural climate expressed in the Zeitgeist.


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