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What is cultural appropriation? Show more Show less
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Cultural appropriation, the adoption of aspects of another culture by members of a dominant culture, is not a new phenomenon. Today, wearing an insensitive Halloween costume or sporting a certain hairstyle can draw accusations of cultural appropriation. But what is cultural appropriation? A form of neo-colonialism? Racism? Cultural theft? Political correctness gone too far? Or is cultural appropriation actually cultural appreciation?

Cultural appropriation is a meaningless term Show more Show less

Cultural appropriation is at best an imprecise term, and at worse, outright meaningless.
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Cultural appropriation fails to include class

Class appropriation is as damaging as cultural appropriation but is not called out in the same way.

Context

It isn’t just a culture that can be appropriated. Class appropriation, where working-class culture is appropriated and adopted by the dominant classes, is just as damaging.

The Argument

The term “cultural appropriation” fails to include class appropriation making it incomplete and inaccurate. Fashion is an excellent example of this, as high-end fashion brands often take the looks, fashion, or materials from the lower or middle classes and recreate these with a much higher price tag. High-end fashion brands commodify the lives of the lower class. The class appropriation within fashion shows us that rich people can afford to not only pay that higher price tag for similar items, but do not have to deal with the struggles of the middle or lower class. One example of this “commodification” of the experiences and fashion of the middle class can be items like tracksuits covered in the signature pattern of the designer brand. Despite there being only minimal differences between designer and average tracksuits, the prices are vastly different. Those who can afford luxury clothing still copy middle and lower class fashion, flaunting their wealth and power. Class appropriation can still be damaging much like cultural appropriation. It treats class and culture as a costume that can be taken off. It also romanticizes the experiences and lives of the idle class without recognizing the challenges or struggles that they face.

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 17 Jun 2020 at 01:01 UTC

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