To Look Like a Modern Ruler: Diffusion of Fashion among State Elites Open Access

Sechandice, Aristide Pasqual Javier (2009)

Permanent URL:


To Look Like a Modern Ruler: Diffusion of Fashion among State Elites
by Aristide Sechandice

The end of colonial regimes across the globe has left in its wake a striking and ubiquitous phenomenon: the tendency among leaders of newly independent countries to dress in Western clothing styles rather than in indigenous garments. As an aspect of cultural globalization, this transition to Western dress has accelerated even as Western political and economic dominance has receded. Appeal to three broad substantive literatures - the sociological literature on fashion, the social-psychological literature on impression formation, and the literature on cultural imperialism stemming from critical theory - offers insights into the motivations of non-Western state elites for Western presentations of self. Case studies of both exemplary and deviant cases are presented to show the operation of this process in local and national contexts. A data set of 104 countries in Africa and Asia, the continents most intensively colonized by Europeans, supplies the basis of a quantitative analysis. I use event history analysis, a statistical technique for longitudinal event data, to model this process and adjudicate between candidate explanatory theories. Functionalist theory is ruled out on theoretical grounds for this particular research problem. World-system theory is shown by a model-fitting strategy to yield no explanatory power for this phenomenon. Evidence in favor of a spatial model and world-culture theory is adduced. The status of a country as a socialist state is found to be positively and significantly associated with the hazard of a transition to Western dress by rulers, while a heritage as an erstwhile British or French colony is positively though more weakly associated with this propensity. The population of a country is found to have no effect on the hazard rate, and a world-system position index variable is not associated with the tendency of heads of state to adopt Western dress.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Statement of the Problem 1

Chapter Two: Case Studies 25

Chapter Three: Modes of Fashion Diffusion 56

Chapter Four: Theoretical Perspectives 76

Chapter Five: Data and Methods 99

Chapter Six: Data Analyses 124

Chapter Seven: Conclusion 153

Appendix A: List of Transitions to Western Dress Represented in the Data Set 159

Appendix B: Countries Coded as Socialist Represented in the Data Set 162

Appendix C: Maps of Transitions to Western Dress by Period 163

References 181

About this thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files