Fashioning Affordances: A Critical Approach to Clothing as an Affordance Transforming Technology

Abstract

Affordances are perceived possibilities for interaction. What is afforded is usually understood as dependent on the properties of a body and its environment. But human bodies are nearly ubiquitously clothed, and clothing can change the capabilities of bodies. We argue that when clothing does this, it should be regarded as an affordance transforming technology. Although this idea receives passing attention in remarks by Gibson and empirical work in ecological psychology, we argue that it should be a central topic of investigation. We further show how the notion of clothing as an affordance transforming technology allows ecological psychology to accommodate feminist insights about the restrictive nature of some gendered clothing norms. Not all affordance transformations serve the interests of those wearing the clothing.

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David Spurrett
University of KwaZulu-Natal

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