The Sports Shoe: A Social and Cultural History, c.1870–c.1990

Turner, Thomas (2013) The Sports Shoe: A Social and Cultural History, c.1870–c.1990. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Sports shoes are a familiar part of the modern casual wardrobe. They are worn by millions of people around the world for a range of athletic pursuits, as fashionable status symbols, and as comfortable everyday footwear. Over the past decade and a half, this ubiquity has encouraged a discussion about their significance in contemporary culture among writers working within academia, the popular press, and mainstream journalism. Focusing on Britain, the United States, and Germany, and drawing on physical artefacts, company records, music, film, and a rich variety of press and marketing material, this thesis moves the discussion into a historical framework. It traces the development of modern sports shoes from the late Victorian era to the end of the twentieth century and argues that they were dependent on a broad range of social and cultural factors, including science and technology, industry, commerce, and the rise of sports. These connections contributed to the meanings that developed around shoes as they moved from sports into more quotidian settings. It adds to the literature on the history of material culture by showing how sports shoes were used for purposes of symbolic communication and identity formation, but also embraces recent thinking on the relationship between things and practice. It argues that notions of use informed design and that sports shoes enabled and were integrated into a range of practices, many of them not envisaged by producers. The influence of youth culture on mainstream tastes is explored, while the significance of sports shoes within the skateboarding, hip hop, and football Casual subcultures of the 1970s and 1980s is considered in detail. It suggests that these groups developed new ways of thinking about sports footwear that helped prepare the ground for the sports shoe market of the twenty first century.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > History, Classics & Archaeology
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2013 13:42
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2014 08:00

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