Why is fashion important to you

Cultural education

The Sinus Youth Study explores the question of how young people live (experience) their everyday lives in different living environments. Against the background of value orientations, lifestyles and aesthetic preferences, a milieu-specific look at young people and their attitude to fashion is cast.

The socio-cultural change in our society has accelerated in recent years and has profoundly changed the structure and culture of everyday life. In no other population group is this change so early and clearly noticeable as in young people. In the course of the aestheticization of everyday life, fashion, taste in music, accessories and IT equipment are becoming more and more important, as they help young people in particular to locate themselves in an increasingly complex society. How you look, which jeans, shoes and hats you wear, which brands you prefer, which products you own, all contribute to conveying the desired self-image to the outside world. In the past teenagers bought an item of a certain brand to impress others, today they buy a complete identity with it. Well-known and strong brands offer them security, orientation and belonging and are therefore used as a symbolic means of communication. Without having to speak, brands can be used to express group affiliations, properties or states. Basically, you don't buy a cell phone these days, you buy a lifestyle and the prerequisite for others to attribute this style to you.

Young people often find models and models for shaping and stylizing their personal identity in the media. To do this, however, they often first have to familiarize themselves with the symbolic world of the respective (sub) culture. Sometimes they invest a lot of time, money and attention to acquire scene-relevant knowledge, skills and practices. This allows them to differentiate themselves from other young people and achieve social recognition and acceptance in the respective peer group.

The Sinus worlds of 14 to 17 year olds

"What makes young people tick?" The Sinus Youth Study u18 provides information on this, which investigates the question of what youthful worlds there are in Germany today and how young people live their everyday lives in these different worlds for the age group of 14 to 17 year olds. The Sinus-Lebensweltmodell u18 was developed on the basis of open interviews (qualitative individual explorations), written "homework books" and photo documentation of the youthful style worlds. In addition to the classic socio-demographic characteristics (especially education and, closely related to it, the social conditions of the family), value orientations, lifestyles and aesthetic preferences, i.e. the entire world of young people, were examined.

Lifeworld-oriented approaches are indispensable in a highly individualized society, because today social affiliation is not only shaped by class-specific characteristics, but in particular by common basic values ​​and principles of lifestyle. Life-world analyzes go far beyond the description of the usual youth cultures and scenes. On the basis of their ideas of what is or could be valuable and worth striving for in life, young people who are similar in their values, their basic attitude and way of life as well as their level of education were grouped together. Seven groups could be distinguished: Conservative-Bourgeois, Adaptive-Pragmatic, Socio-Ecological, Precarious, Materialistic Hedonists, Experimental Hedonists and Expeditive.

The Illustration positions these groups in a two-dimensional axis system based on the Sinus-Milieu model, in which the vertical axis shows the level of education and the horizontal axis the normative basic orientation. The higher a living environment is located in this graphic, the more upscale the education; the further to the right it is positioned, the more modern in a sociocultural sense the basic orientation is.

Figure: Sinus lifeworld model u18 (& copy Sinus market and social research 2011)


The qualitative analysis of the data shows that young people can be classified into three central normative basic orientations - traditional, modern and postmodern. The traditional basic orientation stands for values ​​that are geared towards "security and the search for orientation". The modern basic orientation is based on values ​​that aim at "having and showing" (status, prestige) as well as "being and changing" (post-material values). The postmodern basic orientation bundles the value dimensions "doing and experiencing" (hedonism) as well as "overcoming boundaries and sampling" (self-discovery). These normative basic orientations are not to be understood as separate or separating categories. The world views of young people today follow less an either / or logic than an both / and logic. Characteristic is a simultaneity of values ​​that at first glance are difficult to reconcile.

For example, young people in postmodern living environments also orient themselves towards traditional values, albeit to a much lesser extent than young people in traditional living environments. You want to "party hard" but also "work hard" and be among the best in the class at the same time. You want to be flexible and free, but at the same time safe and secure. You want to enjoy the present without losing sight of the future. The fact that value fields overlap can be seen from the lighter and darker color gradients in the illustration. In the following, the seven worlds are described in more detail with a focus on their attitudes towards fashion.

Conservative bourgeoisie

When comparing the worlds of life, the most important for conservative-bourgeois citizens are adaptive and order values ​​as well as collective values ​​(community, cohesion) and - especially in the western federal states - also religious virtues (faith, hope, humility, moderation, righteousness). They emphasize self-discipline rather than self-expression. These young people describe themselves as inconspicuous, social, domestic, close to home, sociable and calm. Often they already feel that they are very mature and sensible for their age. Conservative bourgeoisie do not protest against the adult world, but try to find a safe and recognized place in it as quickly as possible. They do not question the established social order. They are more skeptical and wait-and-see about new things and orientate themselves strongly on familiar structures and environments. For the future, they want a predictable and predictable "normal biography" (school, training, job, marriage, children) and consider marriage and family to be the cornerstone of society.

These young people have a reduced propensity to consume. Money is used sparingly and in a controlled manner, if you don't want to "throw it out the window for any scrap". The affinity to fashionable lifestyles is also rather low in this living environment. Conservative-middle-class young people have no interest or have not learned to make a name for themselves through external appearances. Constantly chasing the latest trends and trying out new things is not their thing. They cannot do anything with the "brand hype" of other young people. And it is not so important to them to have what is currently "in" or "cool". For them, clothing should primarily serve its purpose. You dress practically and value correct clothing. That does not mean, however, that conservative-bourgeois young people are "young people from the past," but that they simply set different priorities in their lives.