Graduation Year

2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Sociology

Major Professor

Laurel Graham, Ph.D.

Keywords

Identity, Queer theory, Genderqueer, Consumer culture, Gender, Self fashion, Interaction, Internet research, On-line community, Shopping

Abstract

The relatively new field of Queer Theory creates ways of thinking about people living without binary gender, but does not provide for a research model with which to give context to the material struggles of such people. Through the use of Internet discussion groups, the current research project attempts to examine the challenges that people who identify with the concept "genderqueer" describe facing as they fashion selves in social interactions; a process which inevitably requires consumer goods that typically only allow for heteronormative binary gender. Findings suggest that there are similarities in how respondents came to identify with "genderqueer," but such similarities are less present in how they understand and apply the concept to themselves. This study shows a potential conflict arising between academic Queer Theory, which seeks to deconstruct identity categories, and a more popular use of "genderqueer" claimed as an identity by some respondents. In conclusion this thesis examines possibilities for activism and marketing that may come out of "genderqueer" as a widely recognizable identity category.

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