Journal of
Media and Communication Studies

  • Abbreviation: J. Media Commun. Stud.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2545
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMCS
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 203


Contested identities: Historical critique of dress as a communication symbol

Precious Tafadzwa Chingono
  • Precious Tafadzwa Chingono
  • Communication and Media Studies, Monash South Africa, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 07 July 2015
  •  Accepted: 10 September 2015
  •  Published: 30 November 2015


This article discusses the historical associations of dress as a significant symbol of communication in society. Particular attention is given to women within the African and Western contexts in relation to how dress was utilized as a conduit to relay information about the social customs and ills that were prevalent. The phenomenon of dress is a significant symbol of communication that can serve as a window into understanding not only individuals, but also societies at large. Drawing from postmodern thought, it is argued that meanings attached to dress are evanescent and subject to change depending on the context and historical circumstances. As such, the meanings communicated through dress are constantly re-negotiated over time as circumstances change. Due to its ever-changing nature, it is stressed that the phenomenon of dress, and its underlying meanings, should be explored and understood at great length. 

Key words: Identities, historical critique, dress, communication symbol.