Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Sociology and Philosophy

What were Georg Simmel’s thoughts on fashion and money?

Simmel distinguished between individuals’ personal selves and social selves, the latter being necessary for functioning in complex societies. Both fashion and money had symbolic uses in this sense. Simmel believed that fashion was limited to life in cities, because, as he wrote, “it intensifies a multiplicity of social relations, increases the rate of social mobility and permits individuals from lower strata to become conscious of the styles and fashions of upper classes.”

His view of money was similar in that he felt it can operate as an impersonal form of exchange, as well as having value. Through money, subordination and domination can be expressed, while at the same time money permits more freedom within society. Simmel was also aware of the disadvantages of the use of money in its ability create special hardships and crises in social identity.


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