As a reaction to crime and gang violence, public schools in U.S. inner-city areas are increasingly implementing dress codes. Dress codes restrict students use of clothing as an element of contemporary expressive consumption. The authors discuss three emic rationales for implementing dress codes: prevention of gang-related violence, prevention of clothing theft, and the imposition of discipline. They employ sociological theories of conflict, control, and delinquency to determine how dress codes function and their likely consequences, including their potential to produce hegemony and gender inequality. Several forms of student resistance to dress codes are outlined, and the authors conclude that dress codes shift rather than eliminate the symbolic expressions of class, ethnicity, and group membership that serve as the basis for school violence. The authors also acknowledge that a less well-articulated outcome of dress codes may be to partially stem the tide of brand obsession among young consumers.
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