Dialogue between fashion and laughter: modern and postmodern correlations

Olha Maltseva


The article explores impacts of laughter on the formation and dynamics of such a socio-cultural phenomenon as fashion, examines the functioning of laughter and fashion in terms of social rhythmics, and illuminates their correlations in stable and transitional states of society.

The paper is focused on the influence exerted by the unconscious on social processes, namely, the existence of certain parallels between ancient trickster myths and the contemporary doctrine of order and chaos. The socio-cultural environment is explicitly interpreted via these observations, entailing the determination of a prominent role of humor as an attractor of social changes. It is asserted that laughter and fashion are in permanent dialogue; their mutual interactions and reciprocal influences allow revealing complex processes inherent in the whole socio-cultural environment.

Contemporary epoch provides examples of impacts made by laughter on both supporting fashion canons in periods of stable society and chaotization of fashion trends in moments of transition in accordance with a carnival type in order to seek new value guidelines and ideologemes. Thus, in modern society with its established development state, laughter performs the function of imposing sanctions on "apostates" of fashion and makes them fit generally accepted norms. The inclusion of modern society in the state of transition immediately influences fashion trends, acting as the destruction of a certain socio-cultural "code" and impetus for carnival mood; all characters, symbols, and archetypes of past epochs, traditions, and civilizational achievements are mixed for the vivification.

However, in contrast, the post-modern period reveals dysfunctional manifestations of comic element. The laughter ceases to be the guardian of fashion and becomes its legislator; it determines the facetiousness as a trend and loses its regulatory and legislative potential. This dysfunction of laughter has disturbed conventional social rhythmics, changing the nature and logic of fashion. Instead of the principle of the substitution of old phenomena by new ones, the principle of supplements and parallel existence of all possible styles dominates in today's fashion, leading to a great diversity of both negative and positive transformations.


laughter; fashion; social functions of laughter; carnivalization of fashion; simulacrization of sociocultural space; objectification of laughter and irony


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