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4 Examples of Radical Chic

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Radical chic is when an elite supports radical political movements and ideas because they are fashionable at a point in time. This may occur even if the political movement advocates overthrowing the elite. In this case, radical chic is a type of countersignaling whereby an elite demonstrates its strength by criticizing and advocating the dismantling of the very systems that support their status. Radical chic is motivated by a desire for social status and support may be actionless and fickle. The following are illustrative examples.

Social Media

Promoting radical causes in social media that seem fashionable at a point in time.

Fashion

Fashion statements such as a designer who features the iconography of a political ideology or leader.

Support

Donations or appearances in support of a fashionable cause.

Social

Building relationships with radical leaders to as something interesting to do.

Etymology

The very idea of them, these real revolutionaries, who actually put their lives on the line, runs through Lenny’s duplex like a rogue hormone.
- Tom Wolfe, Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny's
Radical chic was coined by Tom Wolfe in his 1970 essay "Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny's."
Overview: Radical Chic
Type
Definition
Support for a fashionable radical political ideology or movement based on a desire for social status.
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