From Boing Boing, there’s a nice moment wherein we can see how the spaces of urban life create culture. Simmel wrote of social roles that spring up from urban life (e.g., the quatorzième), which Park picked up on, and Goffman writes about ‘make-dos’ in Asylums, to show how the constant existence within the semi-public spaces of a mental institution leads to little unauthorized strategies. A nice analysis by Chinese sociologist Zhang Jiehai, explains that the fashion is born as “a matter of practicality because people lived in cramped conditions with no clear line between public space and private place.” This, again, reminds me (again) of the winding walkways and the ‘unofficial streets’ of San Francisco, where public and private collide. What I’m a little surprised at is that this is hardly a youthful trend… From a quick scan of images (from National Geographic and Flickr) it appears to cut across age groups.
Of course, the reason this arises is because it is from an article on how the Chinese government is trying to crack down on this particular phenomenon.