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What Signs of Mod Culture Illustrate a Dominance of Masculine and European Influence Seen Through the Creative Mediums of Photography, Music and Fashion?

In: Social Issues

Submitted By omak
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Danny Lowe
A Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the degree BA (Hons) Fashion Photography London College of Fashion University of the Arts London

Date: 15th April 2012



I, Danny Lowe, certify that this is an original piece of work. I have acknowledged all sources and citation. No section of this literature review has been plagiarised. Signed:



Abstract List of Illustrations Introduction Methodology Literature Review
Chapter 1: Chapter 2: Chapter 3: Historical and Cultural Contexts – Defining the 'Mod' and Youth Cultures in Post WWII Britain Americanisation – Music, Motives and Movement The Signs of Style

iv v vi ix xi

xi xvii xxi xxii xxiv xxvi xxviii xxix xxxii

Interpretative Analysis
Photography: Music: Fashion

Conclusion Bibliography Appendix


The purpose of this research study is to identify the signs of masculinity and European influence that dominated aspects of 'Modernist', or Mod, culture and lifestyle. The Mod is a British subculture which developed in the 1960's. The first stage of this study involves introducing the subcultural theories attributed to the Mod character and the basic roles of masculinity. The second stage introduces a proposed framework used as a methodology in interpreting these signs. A particular reference is the use of Roland Barthes 'Camera Lucida' (Barthes 1982). Following from this, a Literature review will discuss the role of key influences from European and American ideologies that impacted on the style and culture of the Mod movement in Post War Britian. It will discuss research from various publications that primarily illustrates significance of cultural and social factors deemed Non-British, profoundly affecting and modifying British middle class youth and their psychological habits The chapters of the review include analyses from the historical contexts of the period and their significance on youth groups, the relevancy of western consumerism in music and popular culture, followed by an insight into the stylistic and symbolic attributes that contributed to the development of the Mod character. The final phase involves interpreting various visual imagery to confirm the appearance of signs synonymous with masculine identities and European influence in three creative areas. The examined areas will be photography, music and fashion respectively, where an image has been selected to represent the context of the culture. By identifying the various meanings that each image represent, the study will assert the underlying themes of masculinity and European influence in the smaller details and less observed signs interpreted in Mod culture. This will allow for a more individual and personal consideration and could enable further research using alternative perspectives and different methodological approaches. After the interpretation of the images, a conclusion will follow outlining the overall knowledge used to support this study, suggesting improvements for more concise and deeper analysis of sources which can translate to a wider number of subcultural groups.


List of Illustrations
– Figure 1.1 (Verguren, 2004 pg.10) 'Dom Bassett adds the final touch at Speakers'

Figure 1.2 (Barnes, 1979 p.73) Unknown

Figure 2.1 (Verguren, 2004 pg.37) 'Mappy'

– –

Figure 2.2 (Pressley, 2000 pg.40) 'The Specials - A Message to You, Rudy'

Figure 2.3 (Edelstein, 1985 pg 23) The Swinging Sixties


The 'Mods'
There have been a number of reputable studies surrounding youth cultures, gender ideologies and their tangible consequence in fashion, photography and other aspects of visual representation. 'Modernist' or hereby known as 'Mod' culture in particular, is often considered an appropriate amalgamation of such visual works, and has been documented and discussed in many disciplines related to cultural studies and the creative arts since its creation in post-war Britain. Materialising from London and the South East of England, the Mod was a subculture often associated by the mass media with various forms of popular music, fashion and trends deemed to have been considered 'cool' for the period. Such trends include an affinity towards sharply tailored clothes, the use of amphetamines, appreciation of Rhythm and Blues and the heavily customised Vespa Scooters. Its historical and social impacts have constructed societies in the late 20th Century, to still imitate cultural features and lifestyles today, acknowledging the transcendent qualities that have made it such a unique and renowned social group. Mod culture and history has fascinated researchers and cultists, to investigate and mimic respectively, exactly what influences were adopted to develop its eventual identity. The Mods were known for often conveying fashion and style at a new level, glorifying the act of materialistic consumption and proudly behaving with a narcissistic and often effeminate demeanour. Mod's have often described themselves as 'Individualists' or 'stylists', displaying a competence for continuously amalgamating a wide variety of elements synonymous with alternative cultures, sexualities and behaviours, presenting their character to be an original and creative expression of freedom. (Barnes 1991, p.123) Examples of notable influences from predominantly male European and American connoisseurs amongst the fields of youth culture, music and fashion, are identified in this study to associate elements of individualistic and collective behaviours within the Mod subculture. The symbolic and stylistic features will provide a basis for consulting theories, defined and used to compare sub cultural behaviours and their impact. A further look at relevant literature will attempt to compare and contrast arguments surrounding stylistic and cultural influences, determining various distinguishing signs and characteristics that are cohesive with regards to the artistic, creative and cultural aspects of Mod culture and its independence from the general society at the time.


Masculinity as a theme has been widely represented and discussed through many broad cultural, social and political groups in the late 20th Century. 'Masculine' cultures are conflicted with often biased theories initially surrounding identity, sexuality, performance and other stereotypical perceptions, particularly within minority groups. John Beynon (Beynon, 2002, pp.1-4) acknowledges relevant examples including the 'black' and 'gay' cultures in particular, both of whom suffered from an apparent 'crisis' of masculinity, where Identity was, and often still is, the common factor associated with sub-ordinance and exploitation within the wider community. One such behaviour which exemplifies the lack of acknowledgement of these minority groups into the wider context of masculinity, is the concept of 'Hegemonic Masculinity'. Often considered the more culturally normative version of masculine behaviour, it was developed by Raewyn Connell (Connell 1987) to define the role as a 'dominant set of masculinities exerting influence, control and power over other more oppressed masculinities, particularly those commonly associated with the vectors of race, class and sexuality' (Edwards 2006, p.2) Such characteristics are considered typical of the male mentality, transgressing through time by often using biology as the leading convention and excuse for the mass perception of masculine behaviour on social and cultural levels. As Edwards confirms, such studies provide a sense of 'artifice' in their arguments, as they often fail to include the broader concepts of 'lack of integration, of more culturalist, post-structuralist or media driven analyses of masculinity with those perceiving themselves as pro-feminist, structuralist or empirically driven...' (Edwards 2006, p.3) Considering these themes in conjunction with the Mod character and their period of influence, Beynon thus recognises the significance of a fluid approach to considering the different levels of masculinity that are continuously affected by social, cultural and political factors. Therefore, a fixed definition is often considered inappropriate to establishing a framework in this study, for how an object or person is deemed 'masculine'. This is highlighted by MacInnes who explains that 'any empirical individual's identity is always complex and contradictory rather than something that can be defined by any list of qualities, no matter how comprehensive or carefully defined'. (MacInnes 1998, p.15) Diverse interpretations allows this study to distinguish signs and influences that contribute to a broader 'essence of masculinity', according to the context of the subject and period, highlighting that opinions are 'shaped and expressed


differently at different times in different circumstances in different places by individuals and groups.' (Berger et al 1995) By elaborating on this information, this study will closely examine various academic literature on subcultures and masculinity, descriptive texts based on Mod lifestyle and secondary sourced materials; particularly photographs. In order to establish an individual perception of the relationships concerned with themes suggesting masculine influence in Mod culture, it will initially consider the theoretical principles surrounding sub-cultural groups from a range of analysts including Stanley Cohen, Ken Gelder and Dick Hebdige. Using these theoretical models as a foundation, the study will continue to develop an overview of how proposed masculine and European influences have been paramount to defining the Mod character over time. The texts themselves discussed in the following literature review will initially be considered for their contribution in either supporting or contradicting the methodological approach chosen. From this point, an analysis of the visual material sourced in combination with the methodological approach, will lead to conclusive summary of evidence that will explain what qualitative characteristics and influences contributed to the Mod lifestyle.


To discuss in detail the outcomes of what this study is aiming to achieve, it is important to consider the method used to analyse sources that will provide the basis for a thorough and effective evaluation. When doing research in studies of subcultures, there are various approaches that can be used to determine the effect upon a particular group in relation to its social and historical context. Dick Hebdige (Hebdige 1979, pp.52-54) is renowned for his work in subcultural studies primarily examining the associations between social class and cultural groups in post war Britain. His theories surrounding Homology are often contested or eradicated by other cultural analysts as limited in perspective surrounding social, economical and political factors for subcultural groups. To Hebdige, subcultures 'carry “secret” meanings: meanings which express, in code, a form of resistance to the order which guarantees the subordination. (Hebdige 1979, pp 17-18). In this context, the reference is associated to Semiology, where the values of the subculture are represented by the 'codes' and the 'meanings' representing the connotations to everyday aspects of life.

'Semiology' or semiotics is generally known as the science of signs and is largely attributed to the work of Roland Barthes in the late 20th Century. Its theoretical basis suggests that 'all human communication, visual, aural and verbal is founded in an assemblage of signs' (Wells et al 2002, p.352) where the 'signifier' is considered the material being studied, and the 'signified' the associated mental concept. For the purposes of this study, semiology will be used as the primary methodological approach for distinguishing homological conditions, and examples of so called 'signs' within Mod culture related to masculinity and European influence. The empirical section of this study will begin by integrating various theories on Semiology as a basis for reviewing texts and secondary sources. A large focus of this study will be on visual analysis, of which semiology, though often considered a primitive approach to qualitative research in cultural studies, according to Paula Saukko, (Saukko 2003, p. 100) continues to be widely used, and enables the study to 'underpin the language and culture we use to make sense of reality' (Saukko 2003, p.135). Gillian Rose further supports semiology as a method for appreciating the qualities of visual images, and considers it a strong approach 'for understanding how the structure of images produces cultural meaning' (Rose 2012, pp146-147) However, this process is not without its limitations and


complications. As Rose explains, though semiology 'permits reflexivity', it is often considered subjectively and produces a 'radically internal analysis of signification' (Slater 1983, p.258) This is further highlighted by Saukko who draws attention to the knowledge that a material-semiotic view on research 'is both enabled and constrained by a host of intertwined cultural/political/economic/ecological processes, and we need to understand those processes, if we are to intervene in them.' (Saukko 2003, p. 28) The study will distinguish how certain signs can be interpreted through one or two theoretical stages. The first of these will be establishing whether such signs include a 'denotive' distinction; a description of what the sign is encoding, and a 'connotive' distinction; an interpreted meaning or representation on a deeper level. This first stage allows the study to create a broad structure to analyse visual and textual material at a basic level, establishing a universal appreciation about what is initially being suggested. The second stage will allow possible depth into the material, and will discuss the interpretation from the suggested levels of the 'Studium' and 'Punctum' as put forth by Roland Barthes in his renowned work 'Camera Lucida' (Barthes 1982). Using the Latin terminology, 'studium' is explained by Barthes as an 'application to a thing, taste for someone, a kind of general enthusiastic commitment, of course, but without special acuity' (Barthes 1982, p26) A more basic analysis would be recognising a somewhat general avidity for what is being expressed in the visual image, where as 'spectator's' we are to interpret the intentions and ideas of the photographer. 'Punctum' as defined by Barthes 'is also: sting, speck, cut, little hole-and also a cast of the dice. A photograph's punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).' (Barthes 1982, p27) This can be elaborated to describe an unintentional and inadvertent point at which an image 'disturbs a particular viewer out of their usual viewing habits' (Rose 2012, p122) and arrests the attention. It is often considered an element to an image that the 'spectator' relates to on a personal level. Its presence can alter the entire interpretation of the image and can sometimes be hidden in meaning alongside the studium. Using Camera Lucida as a framework for interpreting visual imagery, allows the study to accept a degree of unpredictability in processing what is perceived by the individual. In light of this, by using these critical techniques suggested by Barthes for reading and interpreting visual imagery we can view our selected material 'as complexly coded artefacts to be read as cultural, psychoanalytic and ideological signs'. (Wells et al 2000, pp.43)


Literature Review Chapter 1 Historical Context – Defining the 'Mod' and British Youth Cultures
To discuss the scale of influence that significantly impacted on the creation and development of Mod style and culture, it is necessary to first consider definitions that are associated with cultural attributes of the Mod character and the basic social, political and economical contexts upon which these were built. Nuttal (1969, p.333) and Cohen (1987, p184) summarise respectively their apprehension of the Mod character as “effeminate, stuck-up, emulating the middle classes, aspiring to a competitive sophistication, snobbish, phony.” This outlook of character is developed in a wider context by Cohen (1987, p. iv) as a 'political battleground between the classes' where such arguments provide a foundation that contextualises youth cultures of the period conducive to an evaluation by Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister of Britain from 1957 to 1963. Macmillan is famously quoted as acknowledging the positive condition of post WWII Britain as “A state of prosperity such as we have never had in my lifetime – nor indeed in the history of this country. Indeed let us be frank about it – most of our people have never had it so good." (Macmillan, 1957) It was upon this reflection that a clear perception of working class affluence had developed amongst British youth culture of the period, setting the scene for '..the experience and cultural processes of being male, white, working class, unqualified, disaffected and moving into manual work in contemporary capitalism.' (Willis 1977, p.119) Willis' account argues for the notion of the regular responses to structured conditions, producing sub-cultures which develop their own identities and create their own histories. Historical evidence defining British youth cultures according to Brake (1985, pp.66-72) collate around theories of non-conforming groups that often portray their own identities through narcissistic and obsessive behaviour. An approach by Thornton is considered in Gelder's references towards club culture (2007, pp.64-65); focusing on the artistic details about a sub-culture itself, suggesting that a predominantly male orientated hierarchy dependant on knowledge of topics including music, fashion and taste


triumphs over a mainstream, inauthentic and subversive alternative. A comparative historical analysis to Thornton is discussed by Chambers (1986, pp.4-8) drawing initial conclusions from images surrounding 'sexuality, style, fashion, serious and pop culture, the projections of the mass media and the reproduction of disruption' Chambers argues strongly for the notion of a male dominant and non-British society, however contrasts the notions of Willis, summarising the Mod as 'a male subculture, but this time he has no interest in being 'British' or being part of the traditional working class' This primary approach is taken further by Chambers beyond a basic interpretation of the Mod subculture, to provide a platform for discussing alternative variables supporting authenticity and identity, where in the case of the Mod, Chambers summarises that 'the authenticity he seeks is that of style.' Harrap (1989 pp.10-15) continues the investigation of such 'authentic variables' by reviewing an illustrated and chronological overview of various themes from popular cultures; particularly fashion, music, design and media. He balances accounts to fundamentally suggest an emphasis on post WWII youth cultures to consume; as opposed to historical representations of folk culture which centralised on production. The acceptance of popular culture is extensively discussed by Harrap with a dominant focus on the shift between traditional cultural values and cultural ‘products’ for popular consumption, associating various behaviours, objects and styles as a major contribution to the 'creation of an audience whose members identified themselves as a community.' The interpretation of 'style' according to Harrap further argues a structure for 'antipathy to commercialism and the trappings of mass consumerism' whereas the historical analysis instead suggests the Mod subculture demonstrated a political contradiction to popular culture, proceeding to demonstrate how such materialistic contexts 'could be transformed and moulded' by the particular authenticities of the time and place as they felt fit, regardless of media intervention. At this point the importance of media intervention during the Mod era is also discussed by Harrap, exploring the political, social and general image of popular cultures, instructing how to conduct lives with a focus on manners and morals that were increasingly taught by the films, television programs and advertisements that surrounded the youth of the time. Further approaches that support the appreciation of media intervention affecting subcultures can be significant in definition of the Mod character. However, as suggested previously by Chambers, Cohen and Brake, the historical contexts guides the purposes of this study to limit further discussion as only significant in suggesting possible routes for


exploring the wider impact the media had on development of youth cultures, contradictory to their specific influence on the Mod individual. The combination of these cultural works of literature summarise a basis for further review, where cumulatively they identify characteristics in examples such as clothing, hair styles, possessions and musical taste to name a few. Signs and symbols such as these correspond to the Mod movement that at the time was strongly defined by social and cultural variables including class, occupation and education. Cohen further proposes this in his idea of ‘symbolic collective styles in fashion, dress and public identities’ summarising a method of using empirical evidence to support notions that youth cultures from varying working class backgrounds deflects what aspirations he, or she has into areas of what has been termed ‘non work'. Harrap takes this method further by questioning whether there is a wish to conform to what popular cultures promotes as normal in society in a particular period, concluding with a hypothesis that not 'what we are, but what we desire; imitate the ideals of behaviour which they represent'


Chapter 2 Americanisation – Music, Motives and Movement
Andy Bennett proposes the theme of Mod culture as an audience that socially related to music as a forefront theme for their gatherings and musicians for the adoptions of fashionable innovations in appearance. A further analysis of these ideas by Bennett argues that recognising individuals for their impact on the music scene during the Mod era is to establish their inspirational value on the Mod individual in other artistic principles These foundations according to Bennett elevate the importance of what iconic musicians’ influences had on the Mod, and is centralised at the predominantly American music leaders who inspired the various British youth cultures of that time to develop their own identities through the factors of music, fashion, and lifestyle. Bennet also discusses the relevance of media representation, and though the subject is not a focal point of research in this study, he admits that consciousness of innovations in technology and socio-economic circumstances are factors that argue the appreciation of the western consumer boom that swept through post-war Britain. Through a comprehensive look at a publication by Perone (2009, pp.36-39) we are provided a detailed review of various British and American artists whose works contributed to the so-called 1960's British Invasion of America while often drawing back reference particularly to American influences from the late 1950’s. Such Influences from African American soul and Jamaican ska, are prime examples of the high influx in immigration of Jamaican and West Indian males to the United Kingdom. The first rude boys in the 1960s were associated with the poorer sections of Kingston, Jamaica, where ska, then rocksteady, were the most popular forms of music. Alongside these influences, Perone's suggestion of an initial repertoire of music that is also ‘American, rhythmically interesting, harmonically simple, and southern/rural/roots oriented’ suggests a foundation for many artists to breakthrough into alternate divisions of music including rockabilly, blues and R&B. Perone goes beyond accounting the impacts of commercial productions to also considering the significance of comparing authentic blues as a ‘niche’ by example. He conclusively argues a lack of influence from iconic British artists to initialising the Mod movement, however supports initial evidence of making music ‘one step closer to American roots music’ further proposing music as 'the principal point of convergence between the young in search of identity and business in


search of consumers', thus reinforcing Bennets' appreciation of the so-called Americanisation. These ideas are further underlined by Tim Wall (2003, pp.21-22) contextualising the knowledge of 'musical cultural influences' that enabled conception and discussion about the available outcomes such discourses have on a particular cultural group. Wall further communicates these ideas through the medium of popular music, where particular reference to this study is summarised in the social elements of Walls' analysis. Genres including rock & roll (widely criticised as the most powerful symbol of the teenage attempt to tilt the balance in the parent-child relationship) are supported by Wall as the 'birth of the teenager' and 'the creation of new middle class youth audiences'. Wall analyses various approaches surrounding music to be seen as 'part of a homology' that comprehensibly associates lifestyle choices with the importance of a musicians sound, image, attitudes and values, indicating a rapid growth of appreciation for the individual adaptations and approaches that musical icons including Cliff Richard, Billy Fury and other male artists undertook. Harrap (1989, pp.181-183) continues to provide evidence supporting the impression of American socio-economic consequences on the global music industry at the time, referencing a considerable push to the 'evolving process of musical democratisation, raising the guitar back to eminence and introducing a direct link to the roots of black American music'. These factors according to Harrap introduced British Mod culture to such artists including the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who that took precedence on the world stage inspiring 'London’s own white negroes, the mods, to live ‘on the pulse of the city’ in pursuit of an urban cool'. Bourdieu (Saukko 1984, p.148) points out that a 'high-brow musical taste usually corresponds with, as well as consolidates, a secure economic position. However, sometimes a low-brow music, such as jazz, may subvert the rules of the game and constitute itself as avant-garde or subversive, achieving a higher status than the group, urban poor blacks, with which it was originally associated.' Such symbolic structures which are suggested by Bourdieu, a French sociologist, have been poorly accepted by scholars, as his main opinion is that art does not have an essential connection to what is universally beautiful or true, but that it is attempting to create a reflection of the social classes and to promote consumption and ideology.


Chapter 3 Fashion – The Signs of Style
According to a study on style and subcultures undertaken by Amy de la Haye and Cathie Dingwall from the Victoria and Albert Museum (1996, pp.2-3), fashion from Mod culture is suggestive of the evolving social landscape of the time, which in turn allowed working class youth to adopt styles and designs that were different from the dictations of the older establishment. Ewing (1992, 3rd Edition pp. 178-179) states that 'London led the way to changing the focus of fashion from the Establishment to the young.' An extended view of this is outlined by Ewing on discussing the impact of the youth explosion after the 'discovery of the teenager' by America. Further definition of the two words from Ewing reflects the requirements of youth seeking fashions that 'expressed their particular attitude and mood' as well as retailers hastening 'both within their ranks and outside to meet their needs.' In conjunction with the mods focusing on the visual context of clothes and their individualism, the 'youth explosion' brought with it a dramatic change in retailing patterns. Haye and Dingwall explain this by emphasising 'personal expression' through customisation of items bought from small independent retailers and establishments that “predominantly serve the demand for subcultural clothing, along with selected large-scale manufactures whose product is deemed 'authentic.'” High street stores quickly adopted rebellious youth fashions into strong selling lines, supplying a wide range of objects and fashions expressing the same ‘taste’ values which Harrap suggests are concepts providing the owner a personal connection with the clothes themselves, as opposed to alternative products from a mainstream consumer society The consolidation of personalised youth fashion and mass consumerism is analysed further by Mendes and De La Haye (1999, pp.173-174) as a 'decline' in the business of Haute Couture and an escalation of 'labour intensive custom design.' Chanel claimed she was 'no longer interested in designing for the few, but for the woman in the street' and Mary Quant is credited with once quoting that 'Fashion is not frivolous. It is part of being alive today' What was once defined in Fashion terms as a ‘New Look’ by Dior during the 1950’s, created a perception of maturity that as suggested was primarily concerned with the female form. However, definitions such as this are not considered in detail as they contradict the purpose of this study, though the relevance in


acknowledging them lays precedence for an appreciation that during the mod era strong visual content reached a more youthful audience instead. This breakaway movement into fashions which percolated out of ideas of youth and narcissism established a great vogue among the the young. Subjectively, high quality, mass produced clothing at relatively affordable prices, is categorised by Paul Nystrom, (Nystrom 1928) a noted economist from the 1920's whom highlighted that as 'wealth or social status were the basic selling points of most clothes, the styles should go as far as possible in proving that the owner does not have to work for a living'. These concepts proposed by the designers and style icons from the period reflect the importance of understanding such principles in fashion and retail and is guided by the dramatic changes in economic and social trends that affected the rate of consumption from the general public. Male subcultures were conforming to The post war economic boom that had produced a new more affluent working class young male. A key turning point in this was with The end of National Service in 1961, which might have-perhaps been seen to have left a void in masculine group participation and uniformity. Men were provided opportunities to expand and 'relate to ways in which masculinity is seen to increasingly depend on matters of style, self-presentation and consumption as opposed to more traditional models of masculinity centred on work and production or, to put it more simply, masculinity is perceived to be increasingly predicated on matters of how men look rather than what men do' (Edwards 2006, p.97) Melly (1970, pp.148-152) proposes the notion of Mods requiring their fashion ready-made as 'they hadn't the time or the fanaticism to invent their own styles'. This outlook emphasises the role that the visual and lifestyle aspects of such products play in the evolving consumption, as opposed to the already established 'Teddy Boy' style for example, that according to Melly 'represented one of the first successful attempts to establish a male workingclass fashion with a symbolic rather than a functional raison d'etre.' British tailors Hepworths additional recognition of the importance of male fashion and immaculate grooming is proposed by Mendes and De la Haye as derivative from the Mod movement, it's assimilation into British society credited with a strong influx of Italian popular culture themes from film and media depicting modernity. The Vespa motor scooter, coffee culture and in particular the 'fashionable Italian suit' proved so influential that Hepworths acknowledgement initiated 'a new course in men's fashion design at the Royal College of Art.' Such measures are indicative of the continuing influence on male fashion that European designers presented to British equivalents such as John Stephen and Pierre Cardin, resulting in a flourish of menswear boutiques along the


synonymous Carnaby Street supplying 'highly desirable, youthful clothes in the Italian idiom. In the context of symbolism previously discussed by Melly, the concept is taken further by Calefato (2004, pp.29-30) to propose the different meanings that clothing suggest is analogous to a working language of the era. Semiotics according to Calefato can contain deeper meanings and philosophies providing a persuading argument for understanding dress in a wide range of contexts to dissect the meaning of what we wear. Calefato theorises that 'what we wear is a vehicle for the expression of politics, gender and identity and clothing is at the root of a complex set of messages many of which are paradoxical' Melly uses the theme of homosexuality, admitting a strong homosexual element involved that was not 'so much homosexuality as narcissistic' Such themes are illustrated by Figure 1.1 (Verguren, 2004 pg.10) Dom Bassett adds the final touch at Speakers, a photo depicting a typical Mod expressing vanity and the subtle feminism of his character through the use of hairspray at Speakers; a public establishments toilet facilities. Rawling and Barnes (1994, 5th Ed. pp. 17-122) supplement these concepts in a portfolio of interviews and photographs that addresses consequential evidence of music, fashion and social norms during the Mod era, providing first hand accounts of the ‘look and soul of Mod’ through various individualistic and superficial appreciation. The frozen contexts of such fashion images are categorised through sharp lines, dark shadow and white light, with photographers of the time taking inspiration from grainy images of the new cinematic realism of British films including Saturday night and Sunday Morning and Room at the top. Their attempts were less to convey information about the latest styles than to capture the mood of an ensemble or even suggest a whole lifestyle as is evident in Figure 1.2. The image conveys a strong identity towards the Mod lifestyle that is noticeable of its proud British Heritage and sense of community. Contrasted with the Italian Vespa scooters and the iconic parkas which are tangible towards the Mod's dandy apparel, are put in context by Calefato as a suggestion of surrealism. This form of 'de-contextualising an everyday object and transposing it to an unusual or socially unacceptable place in order to highlight its status as a sign' is comparative to the laid back attitude of the Mods in the image. The overall aspects summarised through semiotics and symbolism is perceptible in the myriad of images that Rawlings and Barnes provide, and as Calefato analyses the cultural 'body cartography' she explains the multiple functions of dress and their


liberation for providing meaning in the contexts of political and social case studies such images can provide.


Summary of Literature Review
Our understanding of how American and European ideologies influenced the development of Mod culture and style is now more refined and subjective, especially after reviewing the myriad of illustrated and literal publications available that constitute the level of impact these external influences had. However it was the fundamental capacity for personalised aspects of mod culture to continuously evolve that remains the most challenging of its aspects to define and contextualise towards a single theme. It would be fair to suggest the amalgamation of the literature discussed around youth culture, music and fashion do translate to individual influences referenced from alternative cultures around the world, but they can also be considered mutually exclusive in summarising a broader conception of the Mod character and its various traits and trends that can be associated with purely British social and cultural ideologies of their own. Mod Culture was, on reflection of the material a reaction to the political, social and cultural developments of the world and had achieved its status through the natural integration of popular themes that impacted their community values and ideas. It would be beneficial for further research to discuss whether any self-imposed themes from the areas discussed resulted in contributing to their development on other artistic and cultural levels. Continued consideration of the economical and political aspects of the era could also be evaluated extensively to discuss whether such trends are independently conclusive to producing an original subculture that is not provided with external influences from foreign countries. Although Mod culture as an entity can be considered in effect beyond evolution, the culture itself represents an everlasting experiment in artistic and materialistic values which can correspond to other subcultural groups of the same period. However, some of the publications discussed limit few, if any comparisons between other cultural groups of the time, as the focus is either subject or theoretically orientated, and only provides a singular view that in essence glorifies the subculture without discussing in depth its contrary impact on other external cultures of the time. It is easy to lament the loss of any original British influence from Mod culture in comparison to alternative lifestyles, however, it's overall perspective is what has to be considered as a discovery of a lifestyle that from an outsiders viewpoint is an apparent 'bricolage' of the best concepts from various subcultures that enabled it to manifest its own identity.


Interpretative Analysis
This study is concerned with signs from Mod culture, that through some creative medium of expression, illustrate hegemonic or other types of masculine behaviour. The study initially provided theoretical outlines of the Mod character and masculinity and merged these themes within the context of semiology. This 'study of signs' is used as a methodological approach for distinguishing characteristics in visual examples including photographs and styles of fashion. Providing two perspectives, the first of which include a general interpretation on both denotive and connotive levels, and the second, a more personal account using Barthes concepts surrounding the 'studium' and the 'punctum' of the image. The selected images were chosen for their impact in support of the study and must highlight that the interpretations take into account the personal perspective as possibly being biased towards an ideology of the discussed themes. It is also interesting to note, that despite their leniency, the images do provide clear examples of the positive correlation between the creative arts and masculine expression in various parts of Mod culture. Used in conjunction with the ideas put forth in the Literature Review, there is a consistent appreciation for how the cultural and social norms of the era would have inspired behaviours to adapt to new and alternative ways of living.


'I lend myself to the social game, I pose, I know I am posing, I want you to know that I am posing, but (to square the circle) this additional message must in no way alter the precious essence of my individuality: what I am, apart from any effigy.' (Barthes 1982, pp.11-12)

(Figure 2.1 'Mappy' – Ray 'Patriotic')

The first visual that we will consider in more depth for the purposes of this study is (Figure 2.1)*** The image denotes two men, whom can be assumed to be Mod's, shown at an outside location. The person on the left of the image, dressed in a smartly tailored suit, seems to be posing in front of the camera without looking directly into the lens, a trademark coat of the Mod era; the Parka swung over his arm. He is leaning with his hand against the back seat of the scooter belonging to the person on the right. The person on the right is seated on the scooter; which includes a large embellishment of added headlights and mirrors on its front screen, his facial expression showing an open mouth with his tongue against the inside of his cheek. We are given an overall


diegesis of what is denoted in the photograph through their off balanced recognition of the cameras lens. Their pose suggests they may have been concerned about presenting themselves favourably, thus causing them to respond inaccurately. Though the sharply pose of the man on the left illustrates an air of 'coolness', the pose somehow falls in line with the remainder of the background, blending in amongst the uniformity of the bricked building. It eludes more to the humorous overlay connotative of the studium of the image which is evidently seen by the number of headlights and the 'tongue in cheek' expression of the boy on the scooter. Many would associate the significant masculine reference attributed to the term 'Size Matters' – where there is a complexity of male cultures to assert their dominance through the size of their assets. In the wider analogy of this Studium we are witnessing the effects of machismo culture through the material objects that were consumed by the culture at the time. However, though this has significance, In this image, it is the punctum which carries the weight of machismo and European influence that further develops this study. It is the Ferrari logo attached to the windscreen of the scooter that not only denotes a popular Italian brand of sports car, but comes with the connotation of luxury and wealth which itself is a stark contrast when attached to the economical and simple scooter. From this standpoint, a new perspective is provided displaying a more metaphorical meaning behind the photographers intentions. As Barthes explained 'Yet once there is a punctum, a blind field is created (is divined)' (Barthes 1982, p57) We can interpret the embellishment of the logo along the idea of commercialism and branding, where a high class emblem such as associated with the Ferarri symbol The 'cavallino rampante' (The Rampant Horse). Even the title itself is associated with connotations of masculinity, where medieval cultures were synonymous with the uses of horses in war and for transport. The term 'rampant' is another possible interpretation for the fast paced, sexually charged lifestyle that is deemed an undercurrent in hegemonic-masculine behaviour. Another possible interpretation is for the extra acknowledgement it receives from peer groups regardless of perception. Its signs connote a cooperation in creating a personal bond between the object and the individual who owns its. The appropriate and often popular term expressed as 'boys with toys' is relevant to a male obsession with motor vehicles and their personalisation.


'The portrait-photograph is a closed field of forces. Four image-repertoires intersect here, oppose and distort each other. In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes of to exhibit his art.' (Barthes, 1982 pp.13-14)

(Figure 2.2 - 'The Specials - A Message to You, Rudy' (1979) Image 2 is entitled 'The Specials - A Message to You, Rudy' (Figure 2.2), it denotes a group of young men from both black and white ethnic backgrounds all wearing similar clothing attire typical of Mod fashion of the time. All are looking towards the camera and Hands are either in pockets with the exception of one person in the background who's arms are folded. The connotative suggestions from a hegemonic-masculine perspective from society at the time may have associated the group as a band or music group. The cross-over between musical influences from black communities and European fashions is evident in the range of fashion and styles attributed to each person. Many of these rude boys started wearing sharp suits, thin ties, and pork pie or Trilby hats, which were deemed influential on Mod fashion. Such fashions became standard for British beat music, and R&B artists who's careers had begun to thrive in the fast paced economic boom and rapid invasion of cross-cultural music. I am drawn initially to the reflection in one of the members at the back, his sunglasses and the


facial expression reflect an air which is somewhat inquisitive as well as malicious. This 'air' is interpreted by Barthes who explains 'No, the air is the exorbitant thing which induces from body to soul – animula, little individual soul, good in one person, bad in another...Perhaps the air ultimately something moral, mysteriously contributing to the face the reflection of a life value?' (Barthes 1982, pp.109-110) From this viewpoint, there are a range of different 'airs' which can attributed to each members face, each providing us a different story to their background. The amalgamation of these airs creates an apparent barrier that is placed within the wider studium of the photograph. Its connotations reflect a sense of pride, racial integration, community, possible gang culture as well as the strong machismo attitude in the facial expressions that could be either considered cool or suggestive in their presentation to the camera. It is interesting to note the title of the photo is the bands name and the name of the single released 'The Specials - A Message to you, Rudy' .The band were part of a the process that led to the amalgamation of influential styles such as Punk, Rocksteady and Reggae. Their name is denotive of something extraordinary and unique, and could have personal connotations to what could be construed as 'special' to each individual. The title works in context with the image and instigates the initial perception to a musical group, Its deeper meaning could be interpreted from the title of the single, but its relevance to the visual image is limited in comparison to what it gives to the music and its own analysis.


'The photograph then becomes a bizarre medium, a new form of hallucination: false on the level of perception, true on the level of time: a temporal hallucination, so to speak, a modest, shared hallucination (on the one hand “it is not there,” on the other “but is has indeed been”) a mad image, chafed by reality.' (Barthes 1982, p115)

(Edelstein The Swinging Sixties 1985) Image 3 is taken from a selection of images attributed to a sixties outlook of fashion by Andrew Edelstein (Edelstein 1985) and is specifically mentioned for its inspiration from Pierre Cardin and Hardy Amies, their work lending support to the knowledge of European influence in the fashions and symbols they proudly displayed, varying significantly across different professions and social classes. Such symbols also lend support to Calefato and De La Hayes examples of a clean and smart look with new adoptive styles. The images each create an outline vision of the theme that is represented in an element of design. The diegesis of the collection includes its own punctum which In this context is represented by the scarves. Each scarf denotes a feminine appeal through the associated colours of pink and or use of floral designs. A small detail in an element attached with its story allows one to to coin the phrase, 'speaks a thousand words' when discussing interpretive meaning by its use in an image. The unfussy outfits are conventional and but are easily transformed through individual customisations which properly express the desired look. There was an evident shift in time from the rigidity of the established male suit, and so was adapted to one of elegance and comfort.


This study has investigated the level of influence in masculine ideals and European traits in culture, music and fashion for the Mod character. It set out to determine which signs, seen in a range of images were considered most appropriate for this analysis. The most obvious finding to emerge from this study is the expression of the Mod lifestyle was a primary form of displaying a new age in masculine ideals and behaviours. The study contributes as evidence in the analysis of a group that has a singular identity which still implements the basic hegemonic masculine traits often associated with a subculture. Though the study shows support towards masculinity in Mod culture playing a crucial role in its impact on other communities over time, the signs appear to support ideas that The Mods always prided themselves on individual expression. There is also evidence that masculine dominance was asserted through more creative means, as seen via the scooter, music and small but sharply dressed details in fashion. Mod culture continues to show signs of stereotypical hegemonicmasculine behaviour in this subcultural group. The discussion of simple elements which are recognised for their importance, have allowed previous studies for further and deeper analysis of the range of interpretative meanings associated with Semiology. However the requirements of this study prevents the necessity for multiple associations which may not be relevant and are unlimited in connotation and context. On this basis, further observation from more sources, as well as a more in-depth analysis using focus groups and an audience perception could have proposed conflicting views. It is difficult to control the suggestions that are attributed to signs in visual culture because of the wider opinions of different social groups. The technique used to examine these signs is but one of many that may all have produced synonymous results that supported the themes discussed. The evidence from this study thoroughly suggests, that while there are also significant traces of feminine or homosexual qualities in the styles and mannerisms of Mod culture, the dominant views of uniformity and consumption were provided a more expressive form, and individual personalities, opinions and subcultures could be identified through their own unique representation. One source of weakness in this study which could have controlled the interpretive outlook of how each image was considered, would have been to question the feminine aspect surrounding each image and its representation within the wider cultural context. In comparison with the discussions surrounding masculinity and subcultures, the Mod character is a multitude of expressions which further research


could explore its social alliances alongside other subcultures of the period. The Rockers, Teddy Boys and Punks were very much their own individual groups, but the Mod's remained evident throughout their creative mediums because they encouraged personal expression. This highlights the importance of considering the individuals orientation toward interpretation, rather than a specific response which has immediate impact on a persons viewpoint. There is also the consideration of extra sources to compare and contrast


Barnes, R. 1991: Mods!, 5th Edition, Plexus, London Barrett, T. 2006: Criticizing Photographs, McGraw-Hill, New York. Barthes, R. 1982: Camera Lucida, Vintage, London. Berger, M., Wallis, B. and Watson, S. 1995: Constructing Masculinity, Routledge, New York. Beynon, J. 2002: Masculinities and Culture, Open University Press, Milton Keynes. Brake, M. 1985: Comparative Youth Culture – The Sociology of youth culture and youth subcultures in America, Britain and Canada, Routledge, London. Calefato, P. 2004: The Clothed Body, Berg, New York. Chambers, I. 1986: Popular Culture: The Metropolitan Experience (Studies in Culture and Communication), Routeledge, London. Cohen, S. 1987: Folk Devils and Moral Panics – The Creation of the Mods and Rockers, Blackwell, Oxford. Connell, R.W. 1987: Gender and Power, Polity, Cambridge Dauncey, H. 2003: French Popular Culture – An introduction, Arnold, London. De La Haye, A. & Dingwall, C. 1996: Surfers, Soulies, Skinheads and Skaters – Subcultural style from the forties to the nineties, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London Edwards, T. 2006: Cultures of Masculinity, Routledge, Oxon. Edelstein, A.J. 1985: The Swinging Sixties, World Almanac Publications, New York


Ewing, E. 1992: History of 20th Century Fashion, 3rd Edition, B. T. Batsford Ltd, London. Gelder, K. 2007: Subcultures – Cultural History and Social Practice, Routledge, Oxon. Harrap, Maltby R. 1989: Dreams for Sale - Popular Culture in the 20th Century, Harrap Books Ltd, London. Hebdige, D. 1979: Subculture: the meaning of Style, Methuen & Co. Hermen, G. 1971: The Who, November Books, London Levy, S. 2002: Ready, Steady Go; Swinging London and the Invention of Cool, Fourth Estate, London. MacInnes, J. 1998: The End of Masculinity, Open University Press, Buckingham. Melly, G. 1970: Revolt into Style – The Pop Arts In Britain, The Penguin Press, London. Mendes, V. & De La Haye, A. 1999: 20th Century Fashion, Thames & Hudson, London Muggleton, D. 2000: Inside Subculture – The Postmodern Meaning of Style, Berg, Oxford Perone, James E. 2009: Mods, Rockers and the Music of the British Invasion, Praeger, Westport, CT. Pressley, A. 2000: Changing Times – Being Young in Britain in the 60's, Michael O'Mara, London. Rose, G. 2012: Visual Methodologies, 3rd Edition, SAGE Publications, London. Saukko, P. 2003: Doing Research in Cultural Studies, SAGE Publications, London. Shuker, R. 2001: Understanding Popular Music, 2nd Edition, Routledge, London. Slater, D. 1983: Marketing Mass Photography, Blackwell, Oxford.


Verguren, E. 2004: This is a Modern Life – The 1980's London Mod Scene, Helter Skelter, London. Wall, T. 2003: Studying Popular Music Culture, Arnold, London. Wells, L et all. 2002: Photography: A Critical Introduction, 2nd Edition, Routledge, London.


Figure 1.1 – (Verguren, 2004 pg.10) Dom Bassett adds the final touch at Speakers

Figure 1.2 - (Barnes, 1979 p.73) Unknown


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