Date of Award

2022

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Sociology

First Advisor

Randall Collins

Abstract

The interdisciplinary paradigm of global value chains gives us a baseline understanding of how the $1.3 trillion apparel market is organized. Brands are believed to be largely responsible for industry organization. While there are many case studies of industries like apparel or electronics, they are rarely carried out with an ethnographic sensibility that digs into the interactions of conflict, coordination, and execution. My dissertation takes us inside apparel factories, buying agencies, and textile mills in India. I use organizational theory, economic sociology, and social psychology to gain an intimate understanding of how fashionable objects are anticipated, designed, sourced, planned, constructed, and tested. The chief substantive contribution of the work is the integration of multiple levels of analysis, from the transnational coordination of forecasting down to the micro analysis of assembly lines. Additional findings, like the existence of brokerage networks that mediate design from the global semi-periphery, counter 125 years of academic and political skepticism. At the brand level, again in contrast to existing evidence, I find that differences between luxury and discount brands extend throughout dozens of decisions and quality parameters. Different assessments are partially explained by occupational positioning. Our self-presentations are cut from global cloth.

Included in

Sociology Commons

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