Blog Post 3: The small house movement

What is the small house movement?

The tiny house movement, aka small house or small home movement (although some would argue the distinction between ‘small’ and the even smaller ‘tiny’), promotes living in small spaces, usually less than around 50 square metres (Gallagher 2013), although again the exact size that constitutes a small or tiny house is much debated. A ranges of websites, organisations, blogs and books advocate the small house movement and provide advice to the small house community and those wishing to join it. These include Sarah Susanka’s book The Not So Big House (1997),, and

The movement is also often associated with New Urbanist movements, as the principles of the two movements are often considered compatible (Not So Big House). The information below from The Tiny Life talks about ‘tiny house people’, classifying them as a particular group, and appears to promote this group as being wealthier and better educated than average.

Info graphic

Why does the movement seem radical?

iron house 2

The concept of a small, affordable and even portable house is definitely not new, even in ‘newer’ nations like the United States of America and Australia – in Melbourne examples still exist of the small prefabricated iron cottages (see photo above) lived in by gold rush migrants (National Trust). The necessity for small houses and small houses themselves have existed in our cultures for a long time and yet in 2009 the average size of a new house was 201 square in the United States metres and 214 square metres in Australia (Shrink That Footprint). Given that ‘small house people’, now and in the past prove that it is possible to live in smaller spaces, one has to ask why the houses we build now are so comparatively large.

Why is living in a tiny house now considered so unusual that it warrants its own ‘movement’ and campaigns to defend and promote it as a lifestyle? The answer is found in our evolution to become hyper-consumerist societies. The concept of the American Dream and home ownership became totally entwined, with owning a home becoming a physical representation of good citizenship and strong communities (Gallagher 2013, p. 65). The Australian Dream presented a similar idea – that pride in one’s house was essential to the moral fabric of society (Greig 2012). The large suburban house emerged as an ideal due to a very wide range of factors, including manipulation through marketing and policy by governments and businesses (Gallagher pp. 53-78, Greig 2012 p. 375).

Encouraged to be perfect consumers, we continued to increase the size of our houses – even between 2000 and 2010 the size of the average American home doubled (Botsman & Rogers 2010, p. 14). The impact of consumerism generally on the size of houses should perhaps not be underestimated, as if the house is not big enough to store the products we buy, we require additional storage. Despite the increase in house sizes, self-storage became a 22 billion dollar industry in the US, and its use has gone up over 740 percent in the past couple of decades (Botsman 2010, p. 13), perhaps an indication of our infinite capacity for consumption.

Why do people live in small houses?

Logically less materials are required to both build and run (including heating and cooling) a smaller house compared to a larger house. This has benefits for the environment and cost benefits for the owners and/or occupiers. Due to the lower cost, people may not feel as pressured to work long hours, for instance to pay a mortgage, and a smaller house also naturally requires less time engaged in household maintenance and chores. The result of these factors is that people who live in small houses can use this time to participate in other activities which they find more valuable than living in a large house. The promotional style video below, from Tiny Life, provides explanations of what small house living means to some.

Interestingly, some of these speakers suggest that not focusing on their house allows them greater involvement with their community and stronger relationship bonds, making them a better citizen. Of course, this doesn’t totally contrast with more mainstream ideas of the American (or Australian) Dream, as many seem to consider one of the greatest benefits as being a lack of mortgage. In a large sense the focus is still on ownership, in this case outright ownership.

Collaborative consumption as part of tiny house lifestyle

Living in a small house is not the norm in societies such as America and Australia, which prompts questions about how people live in small houses. What patterns of living do they need to change in order to live small? For instance, in a tiny house, there is very limited room for every article you wish your home would contain, and so people who live in tiny houses must find ways to overcome this. Of course, one way is to simply consume less, but collaborative consumption, aided by technology allows consumption of goods and services without physically taking up much space in the home. Collaborative consumption doesn’t actually mean eating off of another person’s plate, but merely sharing goods and services.

One example of how collaborative consumption can help tiny house occupants is in providing entertainment. Books, movies, music and games, all things which can entertain you for an endless amount of time and although all these items take up a lot of room, there are online communities which allow you to borrow and return goods you wish to have. Such services which you may be familiar with are Gumtree or Craigslist. These services allow you to loan or borrow other peoples items for a reasonable price, where at the end of the loan period you return it back to their rightful owners. Rather than purchasing movies on DVDs, movies and television shows are now able to be imputed into a hard drive which can be easily connected to your television. In addition to this, with the help of mobile phones and laptops, books, music and games are able to be stored into one tiny portable device which you may store away without it taking up too much room. The popular streaming services such as Netflix, iTunes and Foxtel are also a large help for those living in tiny houses. Netflix has quickly become one of the most popular streaming services which once began as a DVD subscription service (DMR 2015). According to DMR (2015) Netflix was found in 1997 and only launched in 1999, and yet in 2015 the total number of Netflix subscribers in the U.S is 40 million with users spending 10 billion hours per month using this service. In a tiny house, having this service would significantly assist those in having the entertainment they desire yet save space through not requiring the purchase and storage of DVDs. Having it on their laptop which they can potentially connect to their television screens if they have one is much more convenient in the tiny house.

A tiny house example: Katrina Cottages

One example of a kind of tiny house is the Katrina Cottages or Mississippi Cottages. The need for these cottages arose after Hurricane Katrina (Evans-Cowley & Canter 2010, p. 36). The trailers distributed to those in need of emergency housing post Katrina by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA trailers) proved inadequate and even unsafe, due to high levels of formaldehyde in the building materials and so the Katrina Cottages were designed as an alternative (Evans-Cowley & Canter 2010, p. 39), although the photo below shows that the mayor of Bay St Louis embraced his FEMA trailer, decorating it in the Palladian style to look almost like a mini White House.

neopalladian trailer

The cottages are aesthetically historically appropriate to the area affected by Hurricane Katrina, resembling the shotgun houses typically found before Katrina (Evans-Cowley & Canter 2010). Designed to be temporary-to-permanent, rather than just for 18 months like the FEMA trailers, the cottages are designed to be extended over time and to withstand high winds (Evans-Cowley & Canter 2010). The cottages encountered a problem which many small houses do, which is that local discriminatory zoning laws made the siting of cottages problematic and that in particular neighbours who had spent more on their housing were concerned about the value of their properties (Evans-Cowley & Canter 2010, p. 44). In this example the idea of Greig (2012, p. 375) of using housing as commodity and not for our needs, would appear to apply just as much in the US as in Australia. Imitations of the cottages are pervasive and so to officially be a ‘Katrina Cottage’ certification is needed from the New Urbanist Guild (Gillette 2006). While the Cottages were created to meet the need for emergency housing, New Urbanists have championed the cottage as affordable housing solution in non-emergency situations as well (CNU 2006).


From the discussion in this post we can conclude that the small house movement, including Katrina Cottages, threaten the established suburban consumer society which exists both in Australia and the US. They attempt to redefine our concept of home and what it means to live a good life. The Tiny Life explains resistance to the concept, ‘People work their whole lives to get as much stuff as they can, to suggest that is wrong, in a way, is to suggest their life’s work is wrong.’ Of course we changed from being a producer society living in small houses to our current society, so it is not impossible that the trend will be reversed in the future.


Botsman, R and Rogers, R 2010, What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, HarpersCollins Publishers, New York.

DMR, ‘By The Numbers: 45+ Amazing Netflix Statistics and Facts’, Viewed 27 May 2015 from

Evans-Cowley, J and Canter, A 2010 ‘Hurricanes, Oil Spills, and Discrimination – Oh My: The Story of the Mississippi Cottage’, Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law, vol. 20, no. 1 (Fall 2010), pp. 35-78.

Gallagher, L 2013, The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving, Penguin Books, New York. Greig, A 2012, ‘House and Home’ in Sociology: Antipodean Perspectives. Little Diggs, viewed 27 May 2015,

National Trust, ‘Stories from the Iron Houses’, viewed 27 May 2015,

Not So Big House, ‘Not So Big Community and New Urbanism’, viewed 28 May 2015,

Shrink That Footprint, ‘How Big is a House, Average House Size by Country’, viewed 27 May 2015,

Tiny Life,

Small House Society, viewed 27 May 2015,


Blog Post 2: Popular Culture in Melbourne

The following blog post examines various pop-culture phenomenons in Melbourne, both geographical and otherwise. It looks at the way each of these things not only works to make Melbourne unique, but is also made unique by Melbourne.

Cafe Culture in Melbourne.

An image of a flat white coffe in a standard white cup on a saucer. There is a half eaten burger in the backgroundIn the same way Young (2013) looked at the influence of geographical and cultural cityscapes on the unique development of “graffiti culture,” it is possible to analyze the ways in which “coffee culture” differs between different social and geographical locations. Cafes, coffee houses, and street stalls are woven into nearly every Melbourne street. Indeed, Melbourne has a café scene that is considered one of “the most vibrant in the world” (Jolliffe 2010). Melbourne’s destination marketing has become increasingly culture and lifestyle focused; chief among this carefully crafted sophisticated image is “high-quality coffee culture” (Jolliffe 2010). The social and cultural significance of coffee and coffee houses are an integral part of Melbourne’s popular culture. The reason such a thing was able to develop into popular culture in Melbourne surprisingly lies in government policy: as enthusiasm for the iconic physical ‘Monument For Melbourne,’ structure became lesser and lesser, and it’s use became an object of mockery (Holcomb 1999). The Victorian State Tourism commission made a conscious choice to create policies that focused on developing a greater emphasis on food and wine tourism (Jolliffe 2010).

Indeed, what happened was wine. Policies now allowed wine to be served at something that was already a popular establishment in Melbourne in 1988, through reforms in liquor licensing. At this point it is important to take a step back and look at how this deliberate change in government policy combined with the unique cultural make-up of Melbourne. Melbourne was able to acquire the “skill-set” to create a café/coffee culture through the immigration of individuals from all over Europe, particularly Italy. What enabled Melbourne’s culture to go on and become unique was that eventually, all the different coffee styles of each different heritage melded together to become something that was uniquely Melbourne (Jolliffe 2010). So, Melbourne café culture is essentially an amalgamation of different cultures, which was then further adapted to suit local conditions.

Essentially Melbourne had the cultural ground-work for a café/coffee focused culture long before the warehouse style, “hipster,” cafés of today, but would what we have now be around if it weren’t for the push given by government tourism policy to create more opportunities for a café culture? It’s hard to say. Melbourne itself still has an incredibly diverse population of people, with a range of different heritages, so we cannot deny the influence of the current population has a part in what allowed ‘artisan’-style coffee houses to develop today. Indeed, if our current population wasn’t influencing how this popular culture developed, then we wouldn’t have great numbers of different stalls, all packaging a very similar products in very similar ways with very similar marketing styles. However, in the same way it was the unique make-up of Melbourne that allowed a unique “Graffiti Culture” to develop, it is the unique make-up of Melbourne that allowed a unique coffee culture to develop. If we did not have the influx of immigrants from specific places combined with government policy, we would not be able to have the popular coffee/café culture we do today. And if today’s cultural make-up of Melbourne was different to what it is now, the culture may have dwindled out in the same way the enthusiasm for the Melbourne monument did, or it may have developed in a more homogenous way, towards an American coffee model.

Hamer Hall

Melbourne has a wide range of performance spaces, many of which are marketed as been significant attractions of the city by Visit Victoria. Just one of these is Hamer Hall, which was significantly renovated and reopened in 2012. The concert hall is part of the Arts Precinct which has been identified as a potential attractor of patrons for the White Night Festival (Melbourne Arts Precinct Blueprint 2014).

In the video link below from Sydney Morning Herald, Judith Isherwood, CEO of the Arts Centre at the time, explains some of the changes which have been made. Byrne (2012, pp. 15-35) suggests that venues and their design influence factors such as the way music is composed and the behaviour of audiences. He also claims that if a particular kind of performance in a certain space is successful we build more similar venues to replicate this success (p. 16). Discussions about the renovations of Hamer Hall seem to support Byrne’s ideas.

On a technical level the renovations at Hamer Hall were aimed at improving the acoustics. Isherwood acknowledged that the acoustics prior to the renovations probably deterred some artists from performing there (Gill 2012). However even after the acoustics have been improved, an article from the Australian about the acoustics, judged based on a performance post renovation, seems to suggest that the venue is still suited to particular kinds of music, that it works better as symphony concert hall rather than a venue for a solo artist (Kelly 2012). Isherwood stated ‘The stalls’ foyer can be used for late-night jazz events’ (Gill 2012). This statement suggests that the venue has been designed with particular kinds of music performances in mind. The evidence from these news articles resonates with the suggestion of Byrne (2012) that certain venues will encourage or discourage certain kinds of artists, and that ‘after a while the form of the work that predominates in these spaces is taken for granted – of course we mainly hear symphonies in symphony halls’ (Byrne 2012, p. 16).

There also appears to have been a focus on redesigning the building to encourage a particular arts scene and culture in the precinct:

“There’s a transparency to the building now that will engage people,” Reed says, addressing previous criticisms that the original building reputation was accessible only to an in-the-know “elite”. “Civic architecture was once about monumentalism and concrete,” she says. “It was heavy and serious, but now civic architecture is ideally about transparency” (Gill 2012).

Gill (2012) writes ‘The overall plan is for the building to be used from breakfast until late after the last show clears, to create a vibrant public space meant for those attending shows as well as those who previously might never have considered entering an arts space’. There are plans for three new restaurants (Gill 2012). This is a demonstration of how Melbourne’s theatre culture is permeated with Melbourne’s food and coffee culture and that food and drink, as extremely popular cultural elements, serve to bring people to places they might not otherwise go – eating or drinking can be the pretence for visiting and exploring a new place and its accompanying culture (theatre culture, in this instance).

While discussion of the new concert hall suggests that the aim is to create a more open and inclusive venue, the Arts Centre Melbourne still has rules for audience behaviour. On the Frequently Asked Questions page of their website there are explanations of these expectations, including when it is appropriate to clap. The site explains that talking is not permitted, ‘Our venues are designed with perfect acoustics so you can hear every word that comes out of the actors’ mouths. Unfortunately, this means that in most cases they can hear every word that comes out of yours. You’d be surprised how obvious even a whisper in the auditorium is to a performer.’ This supports Byrne’s theory of the link between the venue space, the performance and the behaviour of the audience. The venue is designed primarily for performances which may be very quiet at certain times, which as Byrne (2012, p. 24) points out, is only worthwhile if the audience is quiet too.

It is questionable whether the new design has actually been able to change elite theatre culture. I passed the building in May 2015 and a sign on the closed door (presumably locked) indicated that Hamer Hall would open 90 minutes before the performance started. This perhaps indicates that the ‘public’ spaces are in reality available primarily to those who have purchased a ticket.

 Queen Victoria Market


The “Vic Market” has been an iconic element of Melbourne’s popular culture since 1878. The Market has had a colourful past and it present is proving to be just as diverse. One of the things that strikes me most about the Market is its array of social functions. It not only attracts people of different age, class and occupation, it is a unique tourist destination; it is also at the forefront of community issues and development.

I have been coming to the Victoria Market with my mum since I was a baby; although two decades is a long relationship, the Market is much older than me.

imagesThe Queen Victoria Market, as we know it, was officially opened in March of 1878, but the site is older than that still. Some of the main structures were actually built over an older part of the Melbourne General Cemetery. The Cemetery had long been out of use and congestion had rendered that part of the city unusable; the Market itself is actually an amalgamation of many Melbourne markets that were dominating the area. The changes didn’t end here. With the realignment of Elizabeth Street, and other brick building being built along the street construction, didn’t end until 1930.

But the market is so much more than just history; it is subtly setting the stage for Melbourne’s sustainable future. In 2010 traders at Queen Victoria Market began phasing out plastic bags with a campaign to “Bag the (Plastic) Bag”. This encouraged customers to consider the environmental footprint of their shop. This initiative was paired with the instalment of 1,328 solar panels to offset the emissions of the market itself. It is this kind of community minded development that attract people to the market at a deeper level.

The Night Market is an event that shows what the Victoria Market is all about. It’s a mix of live music and international food. The popular food stalls are representative of, and have helped solidify, Melbourne’s “Good food” focus.

The Night Market is not only representative of popular culture in Melbourne; but on our investment in that popular culture. The investment that has been devoted solely to the Market, for example the new master plan, demonstrates Melbourne’s commitment to the Market’s survival. “In October 2013, the City of Melbourne announced the largest investment in its history to renew the Queen Victoria Market, and create one of the world’s great market precincts.”

The popularity of the Market has already gentrified the surrounding area; and this Master Plan will inevitably perpetuate this process. Hopefully, however, the Master Plan will also cement the Market as a prosperous tourism destination, and therefore a Melbourne fixture forever.


 Melbourne’s White Night

white night

White Night Melbourne is Australia’s most celebrated cultural event since 2013.  White Night was inspired by the international Nuit Blanche movement in a bid to make art and culture accessible to large audiences within public arenas. Paris’ Nuit Blanche has inspired an international network of White Night events in over 20 cities worldwide, with each city molding the event to reflect its unique passions and characteristics. White Night Melbourne is an all-night, free cultural event with visual art, music, food, theater, sport, fashion, film, design and performances on display. This is a reflection of how individuals think about the culture of Melbourne, more specifically White Night and the way in which popular culture affects their thinking.

The event operates from 7pm to 7am, and is held at the center of Melbourne, with activities in city streets, parkland, lane ways, public spaces and cultural institutions. White Night Melbourne is a unique event as it runs over a full 12-hour period, allowing individuals attending the event to choose an arrival time that suits them. Previous attendees have created their own experience – arriving later to enjoy the event and set activities at a less crowded time. This gives them a chance to experience the culture and enable them to adapt with other cultures.

Each consecutive year that it has run is more successful as well as with the popularity increasing, which can quickly be seen as Australia’s most celebrated major cultural event. The wide range of diverse cultures, class, age and occupation reiterates Melbourne’s multiculturalism. However, this event is more than just what it seems, it is setting the stage for Melbourne culturally diverse future. White Night is an event that portrays what Melbourne is based upon. It is a combination of music, art, food, sport and fashion etc. The stalls that are set up along the streets of the city are representative of Melbourne. Many influences have affected the way white night is produced and the very popular culture affects it. The high demand of cultural affiliation and multiculturalism has swayed Melbourne to continue this event as many people are inclined to participate in it.

Byrne (2013) explains how music is shaped by a particular time and place, and how the introduction of recording technology (videos) incessantly changed our connection to playing, performing, and listening to music. Professor of Deakin University, Den Hollander said “The fusion of live performance and new technologies to create an interactive world will be a sight to behold for the hundreds of thousands of people expected to flock to the city center for White Night Melbourne”. White night is a cultural event that portrays the diverse range of cultures and themes that Melbourne itself influences.

 Music Culture in Melbourne

Music is an important element of entertainment in the city of Melbourne. Many places of attraction such as bars, cafes and nightclubs all incorporate music into the ability to attract certain people and express their artistic nature. Popular culture has influenced the way in which individuals perceive certain music and therefore certain attractions around Melbourne. There are many different sources of music in Melbourne in which just about anyone can identify with, as there are many different festivals and bands that play around the city that cover a large range of genres.

The progressive changes in music are reflected by the way in which individuals think and the way in which popular culture affects this thinking. These changes affect many different bars, nightclubs and even bands who play around the city of Melbourne. In order for these attractions to stay relevant musically, they must appeal to a specific aspect of music that individuals prefer. Many entertainment and nightlife establishments in Melbourne appeal to the youth culture, therefore the music that they play can directly influence the crowd they draw.

The function of music in life is something important to grasp and something that popular culture helps define. Weisethaunet reviews an article from Bennett (2000), in which Bennett describes that music does not carry intrinsic meaning, rather meaning must be created in specific social and historical circumstances. This refers to the constantly changing popular culture in which individuals, particularly youths in this circumstance, are adapting to and using to create their own ideas of music. In my own experiences, the music that defines an individual can determine where they choose to be social. Individuals can choose a venue that is right for them or where they feel comfortable based on the fact that they play a genre of music that they enjoy.

Music culture is such an important part of Melbourne’s city as it helps individuals to form an identity. An individual’s taste in music correlates to specific subcultures in which they are apart of (Frith 2004). Music styles can be linked with age and other social groups, as each group carries different knowledge and share different histories throughout culture (Frith 2004). Through each of these particular subcultures and social groups individuals can establish their musical identity and form an image of what they desire musically. The formation of identity within music is what drives individuals to choose where to congregate socially and therefore is what many places in Melbourne aim to target in order to appeal to what these individuals prefer.

Melbourne’s International Comedy Festival

MICF2015_aboutSean O’Casey once wrote “Laughter is wine for the soul – laughter soft, or loud and deep, tinged through with seriousness – the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living”. The quote speaks for itself, everyone in the world needs a little bit of cheeriness, happiness and laughter and that is why it’s a blessing to have such entertainers called comedians that help us laugh even when it’s a struggle to do so. Here in Melbourne we have the perfect time to sit back, drink some alcohol and have some laughs and that is the period of our Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Melbourne’s International Comedy Festival has grown to become one of the biggest cultural events to happen during the year – selling more tickets than any other festival within Australia. People from all states come to join the celebration of one of the biggest entertainment events.micf-2nd-april-057

The festival was created by Barry Humphries and Peter Cook and was launched in 1987. The festival consists of a wide program of stand-up comedy, cabaret, street performance, theatre, visual arts, film, television and radio. The festival usually takes place in Autumn every year, with tickets on sale from only $27. With ticket prices being so low and affordable, it creates a warmer welcome for anyone who wishes to attend. I personally have always wanted to attend the shows, and this year was the year that I could have possibly gone. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch any shows but the line up was quiet impressive. Comedians and talents from all around the world attend the event to either perform or even watch the streaming event of shows. Comedians such as Gabriel Iglesias, Carl Barron, Russel Peters and even radio host/comedian Dave Thornton have all attended the show to entertain the people of Australia. however the list doesn’t end there and the shows run for three and a half weeks each year with multiple shows being played each day.

Not only is the festival on to be watched but also numerous occasions occur within the period of the festivity and even during the year where the craft of comedy can be taught for those who wish to pursue that career path. A popular open mic comedy competition, RAW comedy, begins in January each year as well as Class Clowns, a secondary comedy competition which is held throughout the year, which allows those who aspire to work within stand-up comedy, to do so within Australia.VVLand__9210811_AE16_Gala_8_Jim_Lee

Laughter is essential for every human being. The craft of comedy and it’s ways to communicate with people around Australia is important to our culture. Australia is well known to be a culturally diverse country and with Melbourne’s comedy festival it helps unite people from all over the world to come and enjoy and experience the same thing, humor and happiness.

Transport Culture in Melbourne.

Although a car is not an economic form of making our way to our desired destination it is often chosen as opposed to public transport. This is due to its components of efficiency and sociability (Sheller 2004). It is effective in its ability to take you where you want to in a shorter amount of time and without the hassle of being overcrowded or confined and unlike public transport, one’s car is usually parked right outside their driveway as opposed to walking that extra block to get to the bus stop. In addition, because of this efficiency of a car, people tend to be more social and confident (Sheller 2004). This is due to the notion that by having a car, a trip to a friends house or meeting up with someone for dinner is much more convenient as a 20 minute trip in the car can be equivalent to a 50 minute trip on the bus. Thus, the pop culture of a car opposed to public transport differs greatly as a car can help build one’s sense of independence and reliability compared with public transport which can sometimes be daunting and troublesome for individual.

Indeed, the technology of transport do encompass negative social consequences, like road deaths and being overcrowded. Often people spend hours in traffic congestion can have a considerable impact of people’s quality of life. New transport systems also have difficult challenges when maintaining a healthy and positive environment. Fuel is just another contribution to pollution which has an affect on climate change. Such contemporary transport systems require more fuel to run. Governments, societies and individuals must work strategically to help resolve such problems.

In some aspects public transport can be efficient. In a country as diverse as Australia, the development of an efficient, affordable transport system has been fundamental to the development of the nation. Transport services provides for the needs of individuals and society who live in those towns – providing a means to deliver food and carrying citizens to work and social activities. Indeed, transport helps makes daily life possible and is economically friendly. Being involved in using transport such as trains, trams and buses, as well as using a car, I find it more reliable and accessible using public transport. It’s somewhat more reliable and the amount of people using transport nowadays is increasing. In saying this, the use of public transport is increasing as the use of the mobile car is decreasing as time goes by.

The car as a source of transportation changed the Australian way of life. Australians could now travel wherever they wanted, whenever they liked. So as you can see, there are so many facets that create Melbourne’s unique culture. The way each of these contributing factors influence each other exemplifies the way culture is created in cities.


Art, Theatre & Culture: Theatres, Visit Victoria, viewed 26 April 2015, <;.
Byrne, D 2012, ‘Creation in Reverse’, in How Music Works, McSweeneys, (pp. 15-35).
Cooper, M 2011, ‘Bodies under Queen Vic haunt market revamp’ The Age, 11th of March,<; Frequently Asked Questions, Arts Centre Melbourne, viewed 29 April 2015, <>.
Frith, Simon (2004). Music and Identity. Popular Music: Music and Identity. pp. 119-121. Retrieved on 26th of April, 2015.
Gill, R 2012, ‘It’s showtime at Hamer Hall’, Sydney Morning Herald 14 July, viewed 26 April 2015, <>.
Good Reads, “Quotes about Laughter, Viewed on 27-March-2015.<;
Holcomb, B, 1999, Marketing cities for tourism, In D.R Judd and S.S Fainstein (eds.), The Tourist City. (pp.54-70), New Haven, CT: Yale University Press Jolliffe, L. (2010). Coffee Culture, Destinations and Tourism (Tourism and Cultural Change, No. 24).
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Melbourne Arts Precinct Blueprint 2014, viewed 29 April 2015, <>.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2015, Our Story, Viewed on 27-March-2015.<;
Queen Victoria Market 2013, History, Queen Victoria Market, viewed the 25th of April 2015.
Queen Victoria Market 2013, Master Plan Draft: Vision, Queen Victoria Market, viewed the 25th of April 2015.<;
Queen Victoria Market 2013, Sustainability At The Market, Queen Victoria Market, viewed the 25th of April 2015.<;
Queen Victoria Market 2013, The Night Market, Queen Victoria Market, viewed the 25th of April 2015. <;
Sheller, 2004, Automotive emotions, feeling the car (2004). Jounal of Theory culture and society. vol. 21 no. 4-5 221-242
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Young, A. (2013). Street Art, Public City: Law, Crime and the Urban Imagination. Routledge. Retrieved from

Blog Post 1: Cultural Appropriation vs. Appreciation

The following post looks at the idea of cultural appreciation vs. cultural appropriation, particularly in relation to the connection of attire to culture. We’ve looked at a variety of different types of cultures, geographical and otherwise to help us consider the point at which cultural appreciation becomes appropriation.

Appropriation or appreciation of Indian attire?

I’m a very white-skinned, Anglo-Saxon Australian who performs with a Bollywood dance company, so the topic of cultural appropriation vs cultural appreciation is very relevant to me personally. I find much of Indian wear, for instance saris, beautiful and often comfortable. However, I do not wear Indian wear outside of performance and rehearsals. I can’t find much logic in it – why wouldn’t I wear what is basically just a long piece of fabric? I’d wear a sarong at the beach, but a sari seems different. It’s as though it has some cultural significance and I don’t have the right to wear it because I don’t belong to Indian culture due to the fact I have no Indian heritage.

Some Western designers apparently feel able to incorporate aspects of Indian design into their own designs. Chanel’s 2012 Paris-Bombay show drew heavily from Indian design and tradition. As you can see from the video below, Karl Lagerfeld evidently had no issues using Indian inspiration for his designs, without necessarily understanding India, and even says he drew on British colonial influence for inspiration (and included Bombay rather than Mumbai in the show’s name).

Interestingly, the response of Indian actresses Freida Pinto and Sonam Kapoor, at least in the opinion they present in an interview, was to be enthusiastic, certainly not offended, by an Indian influenced Chanel collection. These actresses regularly wear Western clothes in films and in their personal lives and could perhaps be assumed to view fashion as art or simply fun, rather than attaching great cultural meaning to garments.

The trend goes both ways of course. Many Indians prefer Western style clothes to traditional Indian wear for their daily lives and sometimes even for special occasions. The link below is to the website of a top Indian couture designer, particularly popular for bridal wear. In recent years he has begun to incorporate European techniques into his designs, collaborating with Italian craftsmen, and some of the designs now look noticeably ‘Indo-Western’, as can be seen in the image from his website below.


‘Indo-Western’ is a well-recognised category of fashion in India, there are designers who specialise in creating these styles. Examples of styles considered ‘Indo-Western’ can be found here:

Clearly there are many Indians and Westerners who feel comfortable adopting the other’s culture in regards to fashion. Whether an individual person considers this is cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation probably depends on how they view fashion – are they ‘just clothes’, art, or significant elements of cultural tradition? Ultimately how a person views clothes is very personal. Some people attach great meaning to their clothes and select what they wear very carefully, others just wear whatever they think is comfortable, or appropriate to the climate, or fun and aesthetically attractive. For me I think I would possibly wear something like Indian couture (if I could afford it), as this seems more like art or fun and is a new creation. I would however be extremely hesitant to wear a traditional Indian outfit specific to a particular region/culture, which has possibly been worn the same way for hundreds of years, due to the meaning the people of that culture may attach to that outfit and the offense I might cause should I wear it.

Steampunk and its relationship to the Disabled community and culture:

According to the urban dictionary, “steampunk” is defined as as subgenre of science fiction and fantasy with the slogan “what the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.” It’s an attempt to create an anachronistic quasi-Victorian alternate history, and by far the most popular and well-known aspect of this movement is the attire. Indeed, the attire itself has an intriguing set of components, combining Victorian attire with technology and creating an aesthetic inspired by 19th century steam engine technology.

However, the designs of many of the accessories adored by followers of steampunk are also inspired by the various orthoses and adaptive devices used by another community and culture: the Disabled community. Whilst many individuals do not accept the idea of Disabled people having a particular culture, those of us who are part of it can assure you it exists. In our culture, mobility aids are more than just the physical objects. Often to us they are imbued with a story. To us, mobility aids symbolize our struggle to fit in with the normalized able-bodied world, and the way many of these devices mold us and restrict our movements so we can appear more normal is akin to the restriction we feel in our day-to-day lives, as though we cannot be our physical or personal selves because we will not be accepted. In this we can see part of our mythos, the struggle to fit in with the able-bodied community is something that is conceivably timeless and constant: for as long as there have been disabled people there has been this struggle.

So when non-disabled people put on symbols of our identity as costumes, it is not the mere wearing of the item that is the concern (as Armstrong identified in 2000, mythos is not concerned with the practical, but rather with the meaning of life,) it is the fact that they are emulating a symbol of our culture and community, but when they do so the items lose their meaning. Is this sort of thing something that should be considered good? Will acceptance of leg-braces and things associated with disabled people soon lead to acceptance of disabled people themselves as mainstream? Whilst I don’t believe the latter to be true, the answer to the former in my option is no. This is simply because those who choose to be part of disabled culture have shared identity, perspective, and community, and with that comes a shared way of looking at the practical aspects of life (the logos,) and a shared set of stories (mythos;) the loss of meaning of our shared stories if they are co-opted by the non-disabled cultures around us, such as steampunk, would mean a loss of the part of the richness of our community.

Religious symbols in France

 The relationship between dress and religion is a complicated one. Many people use dress to express their faith; while others might wear an item (of religious connotation) out of habit or tradition, rather than out of deference to God.

Although individuals may appropriate types of dress (as we have discussed), this appropriation takes on a new shape when it is done by the state. This piece will evaluate the outcomes of cultural appropriation perpetrated by the state of France.

A 2004 law prohibits the wearing or open display of religious symbols in all French schools. In 2010, a law banned the full Muslim face veil, known as the niqab or burqa, from public places.

The law was based on three principles: the neutrality of the state, the freedom of religious exercise and public powers related to the church. This law is seen as the backbone of the French principle of laïcité, meaning ‘freedom from religion’.

This phrase ‘freedom from religion’ suggests that religion is something to be cautious of, to be held at a distance. Although the law maintains that its purpose is to protect its citizens, it has many arbitrary limitations. For example, the 2004 law, regarding the display of religious symbols, does not apply to universities. This seems to be an institutional dimension to the law, rather than a legal one.

It is this institutional manifestation of the law that has led me to see these reforms as acts of cultural appropriation. It is the dominant Christian state of France that is defining what it means to wear a burqa. The French government has commandeered religious symbols, and assigned them a new meaning.

Approximately 5 million Muslims live in France, out of 5 million, less than 2000 are believed to wear a burqa. The large scale protests that have occurred in France (and around the world), since the ban, indicate that the law is offensive to more than just the burqa-wearing community.

Many of the press conferences held surrounding the issue, have explored the reasoning of cultural protection. However, the logic that one student wearing a burqa somehow prevents others from learning or practicing their religion is heavily criticised.

The social outcomes of this controversial law have by far been the most damaging. The French Muslim community, and burqa-wearing women in particular, have experienced increased violence. This in turn, has resulted in further alienation and antagonism between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities in France.

Cultural appreciation vs cultural appropriation of the Ganguro phenomena
The Ganguro phenomenon among Japanese teenage girls has been recognized as a new fashion style reproducing certain hip-hop physical features. Their physical appearance is manifestly different, such as their blackened faces and necks with shimmering makeup, blond or white hair, boots with solid platform soles, and bright colored tight miniskirts. As commonly recognized, such an imitation is indeed said to be an open expression of individualism, freedom, and self-expression.


Reflection of hip-hop culture in Japan
Ganguro as a new fashion style reflects the global influence of hip-hop culture and affects Japanese youth ideology. This notion has emerged among Japanese teenage girls in metropolitan cities such as Tokyo. Because of the worldwide effect of hip-hop culture, some Japanese teenagers become Ganguro girls to make them stand out and be prominent as being different from others of the same generation. There are many features that are representative of being a Ganguro girl, some include; heels with solid platform soles over 10 centimetres high, bright coloured tight mini-skirts, having blond or white hair, and wearing shimmering makeup. Some Ganguro girls even go to the extreme by having their faces and necks blackened, often highlighted by white makeup to give them that uniqueness. In so doing, they make themselves look similar to black women. As often observed in Japan today, Ganguro is not a secluded social concept, but an impact exercised by hip-hop culture upon the Japanese young generation. 

Reflection of self-identity
Ganguro can be seen as a social concept, however many believe that Ganguro is more than a new fashion style among Japanese teenage girls; it is an explicit expression of self- identity for those who attempt to advance from traditional Japanese cultural values and social standards.  Some speculate that Ganguro girls are using hip-hop image to rebel against wearing traditional uniforms to express their individuality and personality. For whatever assumptions, ‘Ganguro’ is the name not created by the Japanese girls themselves, but by the Japanese public who complain that these “creatures” reflect all of the negative aspects of society. Ganguro girls attempt to identify themselves as real and free individuals. This may be seen as the case because of a number of reasons which include; lack of adequate communication between Japanese children and their parents, lack of loving family environment, and family neglect which may cause many serious childhood psychological and emotional problems. Strict school rules as well as stress may affect the young adolescents. Thus, for some Japanese girls, being Ganguro is a gateway from many problems they face in their everyday life with family, education and school environment to name a few. The adoption of the explicit hip-hop appearance does not fulfil with family and school standards, but openly expresses Ganguro girls’ attitudes of rebelliousness as well as their self-identity.

ganguro 2

Ganguro as a subculture
Ganguro as a subculture is in conflict with mainstream Japanese culture, and although this subculture may not spread to the majority of the Japanese younger generation, it has socio-cultural and ideological significance in Japanese society. Researchers in the field of Japanese studies believe that Ganguro is a form of revenge against traditional Japanese society due to resentment of neglect, isolation, and constraint of Japanese society. This is their attempt at individuality, self-expression, and freedom, in open disobedience of school standards and regulations.

Cultural appropriation/appreciation of Lolita fashion

Lolita fashion is a Japanese subculture which, in itself, incorporates elements from other subcultures including Rococo and Gothic. Although appealing in certain ways to all genders, the Lolita style is predominantly adopted by women and is considered a feminine movement. The fashion subculture originated in Japan, however has spread worldwide with many other cultures mimicking or adopting the trend, stated by Bernal, 2011. The fashion movement was originally developed through the inspiration of historical dresses of dolls and depictions of fictitious 19th century adolescents.

The trend originally intended to carry the notion of innocence and respectability; however the adoption of this subculture, particularly by the western world, has lead to a sexualisation of the garments and the individuals who wear them. This sexualisation is the product of cultural appropriation, in which the individuals adopting the style are changing it in a way that it does not appear to be sacred to them. The portrayal of promiscuity associated with the Lolita movement, particularly in Japanese pop culture, has lead to the confusion by many individuals worldwide of the fine line between “cute” and “sexy”. This confusion can result in the misinterpretation of the fashion ideas put in place by the movement in the early stages of its existence. The sexualisation of the trend sheds a negative light on the original ideas of the movement (cute, innocent etc.) and therefore may lead to individuals within the subculture to take offence to something which has such a bearing on the way in which they present themselves in everyday life. This sexualisation is not something that is familiar with the original Japanese trend, rather an element that has been incorporated by non-Japanese individuals wearing the garments. Most non-Japanese Lolitas are seen to be ‘borrowing’ from another culture’s clothing style and therefore can be seen by some as appropriating original Japanese Lolita fashion. Drawing upon another garment originating in Japan, the Kimono, it can be seen that non-Japanese individuals wearing these garments can come across to native Japanese as disrespectful. There is a similar point of view shared by those who wear Lolita fashion for its original, Victorian-style trend. Lolita’s around the world that are not Japanese incorporate elements of styles from early Japanese culture in their attire and may unintentionally offend those Japanese who are so heavily invested in Japanese fashion.

The Lolita subculture is one that is heavily affiliated with dolls. Individuals who are involved with Lolita fashion are strongly associated with collecting dolls and dressing in ways that resemble these dolls. Individuals who adopt the fashion trend but have no affiliation with dolls may be considered by those who do as not having a strong appreciation for the original cultural ideas, and therefore it can be difficult to determine whether these individuals are appreciating the culture or are demeaning the culture to a certain extent.

Peace, love and Tie-Dye; Dressing the part of a Hippie:

I think many people will agree with me when I say, Hippies fashion is still in style even nowadays. Their rocking bold colours, flower bands around their messy wavy (unbrushed) hair, crazy vintage round sunglasses and off the shoulders top seem to still be an ideal look shown in the present societal norm.

History of the Attempted Peace Makers:

Hippies was a counterculture which developed during the 1960’s, then becoming an alternative lifestyle that originated the title hippies, freaks or long hairs. It became a culture of Love_Not_War_Signindividuality, fighting to overhaul domestic policy within the United states after dissatisfaction with the consensus culture that developed after World War II. Although they were somewhat known as the rebels, excluding themselves from society, creating they own culture and forming a new drug culture, their clothing attire is what differentiated them from society, making them stand out. It was believed that they were all about the peace, love and no war, the now famous peace sign was something they used frequently. They are also stereotyped as the free-spirited, the continuous love makers and the believers in earthly powers/atmospheres. Vibrant colours they used were pink, yellow, orange, green and purple. most of the time all those colours were used at once which created the tie-dye revolution. Their use of patterns, swirls and flowers evidently became their signature.


Hippies Fashion in the Modern Society:

Fashion and trends in our modern society has now obviously differed from many years ago. The revolution continues with age, culture and generations. However it was noticed that recently the hippies unique sense of style has returned to our local stores, such as tree of life and Ishka. Even certain websites such as and have implemented the taste of this style into their clothes. Fashion statements and garments such as loose tops, long maxi skirts, chokers, flower crowns and off shoulder crop tops are now being worn by people of all ages. tumblr_mjbc0yvxHg1qiwls1o1_1280

In saying that, the hippie stereotype continues to follow that fashionable attire. Just because one wears vibrant colours, a flower crown and a hanging peace sign around their neck, they are still believed to be apart of the revolution of make love, not war, but nowadays we label them indie (short for individuals), boho (short for bohemian) or hipster (modern twist on Hippies). Speaking from experience, I adore the sense of individuality in this style, however I cannot bring myself to wear these outfits out in public to a friendly barbecue, my local shopping centre or a friends party because what is expected of my outfit is the role of the free-spirited, care-free and an earthly human being which is what the hippies were known to be. Nonetheless, no, I don’t attend protests and I don’t put dreadlocks in my hair; I do shower everyday, live inside a home with a roof above my head and sleep in my own bed. I believe in making peace, love and not war but it’s not the sole intention of why I have a liking for that attire. I have a friend who is earthy, admires nature and wears crystals because she believes they symbolise something beyond this world, yet she doesn’t dress the part of a hippie and doesn’t label herself as that. So the subculture goes both ways, some hippies love to dress the part, some don’t and some non-hippies like to dress the part but cannot without the stereotype of the titled attire.


Famous actress Vanessa Hudgens is well known
for her hippie style at Coachella Music Festival
in the Unites States.

References and Bibliography:
Bernal, K (2011). ‘The Lolita Complex: A Japanese Subculture and its Paradoxes’. AUT University.
Armstrong, K (2000).  The Battle For God. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Exact title of the Act : Loi n°2004-228 du 15 mars 2004 encadrant, en application du principe de laïcité, le port de signes ou de tenues manifestant une appartenance religieuse dans les écoles, collèges et lycées publics.

Rajia Aboulkeir ‘Hijab debate returns to France after student asked to remove her ‘thing’’ Al Arabiya News, Wednesday, 1 October 2014


Raphaël Liogier, ‘Révolution culturelle dans la lutte anti-secte’, Le Monde (Paris) 4 March 2008.

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