& Ela Dedhia
National Institute of Fashion Technology, India
A rising community of workers wearing protective clothing
When one meets a stranger, the identity analysis of the stranger commences. First by the visual appearance/ communication through the clothes they wear, and subsequently by asking what do they do? Thus, making fashion and their work as major contributors towards perceiving their identities. Clothing is a mediator between the naked body and a self-symbol to the world.
If one meets a group of people, who have qualified for doing a particular job, wearing particular clothing that ensures their safety and tackles danger for the wearer, it creates a sense of belonging and identity. Thus defining them as a community – a group of people having these characteristics in common. The challenge that this identity brings can have a positive as well as a negative impact. The idealist will look at this identity as a boon, with a sense of pride to celebrate what they do and where they belong. It creates a sense of self-assurance towards safety. On the other hand, such identity creation could also lead to a sense of loss at the position in the work place. The authors conduct an in-depth qualitative analysis of workers from petrochemical industries (n=200) of Northern and Western India to understand their acceptance, behaviour and reaction to protective clothing (PC), using a questionnaire based on Likert scale, and open-ended questions to understand their acceptance, behavior and reaction to protective clothing (PC). They discuss how not just the wearer but also the audience perceives them in their work-wear. The statistical findings from the study indicate that the workers were well aware of the importance of PC in petrochemical industries. It was observed that previously different tasks were assigned different uniforms, but at present irrespective of the hierarchy, each worker is wearing the same PC. The research shows how this creates a rising collective identity from an individual identity, founded on role-based identity.