Date of Award

Winter 1997

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Cynthia M Duncan


This study examines how women in a working class, fishing community select and present cultural orientations to distinguish themselves from other women and create stratification. Based on data gathered through eight months of participant observation and 44 in-depth interviews, the research shows that local women choose and then reinforce social identities that reflect the norms, values, lifestyles of either the working class town, the wealthy summer colony, or people from outside the community. They present their cultural orientations through their work ethics, leisure activities, consumption practices, and family values and expectations. By producing these identities, women create and establish a place within three distinct cultural groups that reflect the American class structure. Relying on the theoretical work of Weber, Bourdieu, Goffman, and Blumer, this study shows that cultural aspects of stratification are not merely determined by structural position, but are continually produced and reproduced through daily interaction. Women play a unique role in this process as a result of their social roles in the family, community, and work.