This woman's work: an exploration of women's experiences with role transition.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Holly M. Lentz (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Nancy Hodges

Abstract: The many identities that comprise the self surface and are displayed through dress (Roach-Higgins & Eicher, 1992). In communicating the self, the importance of setting and one's role in that setting must be considered and understood for each social interaction (Goffman, 1959). However, individuals often undergo role changes, and these role changes are usually marked by rites of passage (Turner, 1960). Dress is one of the primary ways that role change is communicated during a rite of passage. In role transition, dress is used in a reflexive manner to communicate the transition to others and to facilitate transformation of the self, the ultimate outcome of role transition. This study looks specifically at women transitioning from the college student role to that of an apparel industry professional and the importance of dress within this process. An interpretive methodology was used to structure the study, and multiple methods were employed, including a demographic questionnaire, a daily dress journal, and in-depth interviews (Kvale, 1996). Five women, all of whom graduated from college and are currently working full-time, comprise the study's participants. Three levels of interpretation were developed based on the data collected. First, personal narratives were developed to examine each participant's experiences with role transition. A thematic interpretation based on the similarities and differences within these narratives comprises the second level of interpretation. Three conceptual areas--transition, consumption, and transformation--frame the themes that surfaced to connect the individual's experiences with those of the group. The third level of interpretation was then developed to theorize how dress is used as a bridge between states of being and becoming, linking the old self with the new one during the transition process. In this study, participants' experiences with dress are key to understanding how role transition ultimately leads to transformation of the self. The three levels of interpretation provide an in-depth understanding of dress as a tool for role transition and means for performing transformation. This study fills a gap in the literature by illustrating how dress provides a unique location for interpreting how individuals experience the transition from student to professional. Further research is needed to explore the implications of this location for other role transitions.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2008
Women, Dress
Clothing and dress $x Symbolic aspects.
Work clothes $x Social aspects.
Working women $x Costume.
Self-presentation $x Psychological aspects.

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