chapter  6
ByBeng Huat Chua
Pages 22

The convergence of the social and the individual in bodily adornment is conceptualized sociologically in the seminal but somewhat neglected essay, ‘Appearance and the self’, by Gregory Stone (1962). Stone points out that the social self is situationally sustained by the workings of two basic elements, namely, appearance and discourse. He argues that the best ‘guarantee’ for meaningful social interaction is through the situated actors’ ‘identification of and ‘identification with’ each other in sequential order, for if one cannot make out the other’s identity claim, there can be no identification with the other’s identity. The ‘identifications of one another are ordinarily facilitated by appearance and are often accomplished silently or non-verbally’ (Stone, 1962:90). There is, therefore, a primacy of appearance over discourse: appearance ‘sets the stage for, permits, sustains, and delimits the possibilities of discourse by underwriting the possibilities of meaningful discussion’ (Stone, 1962:90).