This is an ethnographic study of aging women in the Red Hat Society. My study looks at the social networks and behaviors of these women through a series of interviews with eight women from two different Red Hat Society groups. The participants are primarily white, working to middle-class, rural, Ohio women between the ages of 50-65 years. I use literature from Valerie Fennell's (1981) study of older women's social organizations in a southern United States town to support my study, as well as previous studies on the Red Hat Society such as Marybeth Stalp's (2009) "Conspicuously Consuming: The Red Hat Society and Midlife Women's Identity" and Susan L. Hutchinson's (2008) "Beyond Fun and Friendship: The Red Hat Society as a Coping Resource for Older Women." I also give an overview on the study of gerontology in order to understand the study of aging individuals. I employ a Durkheimian theoretical approach to my study to better understand how the individual behaves within their Red Hat Society group. I also use Marcuse's theory of aesthetics and play to explain dress in the Red Hat Society. I discuss three recurring themes within my interviews: the importance of fictive kin, how a group mentality affects the individual within a group, and how the practice of age-grading socially segregates RHS members from friends outside of RHS. In my final chapter, I explain the importance of ethnographic studies with aging populations within the discipline of anthropology and explore how the hypotheses that I made throughout my literature review and theory chapter compare with the data I collected. I also explore the importance of my study of RHS as it relates to the discipline of anthropology; for example, the importance of studying how RHS members influence modern society's beliefs about aging individuals.
Sociology and Anthropology; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Early, Victoria N., "Going Rogue: An Ethnographic Study of the Social Networks and Social Behaviors of Aging Women in the Red Hat Society" (2010). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 1106.
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 2010 Victoria N. Early