Coded Symbols and Game Playing
This chapter focuses on the ways in which symbolic codes are manipulated and deployed in the iconography and text of clothing products. It focuses in particular on the use of codes that draw on alphanumeric combinations or on historical references. Such codes are seen not only on T-shirts and other clothing products but also on tattoos, license plates, accessories, and even giant Styrofoam letters in football stadium stands. Some alphanumeric and historical codes are co-opted from other popular youth cultural scenes and then stripped of their original cultural referents. The chapter traces the game-playing aspect of the codes, by showing how young people (and commercial companies) adapt the codes and their display in order to navigate bans of particular symbols and brands. Drawing on interview data with young Germans in and around the far right scene, it also looks both at whether and how youth understand and interpret embedded far right codes, and at how they consume the clothing and products more generally.
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