Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Title

From Student to Sorority Girl: Gender, Class, and Presentation of Self in Formal Sorority Recruitment

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in Sociology

First Advisor

Kirsten Dellinger

Second Advisor

Minjoo Oh

Third Advisor

Ross Haenfler

Abstract

In this thesis, I discuss how women prepare for the formal sorority recruitment process associated with National Panhellenic Conference chapters at Southern State University, a large public university in the Southeastern United States. I first examine their experiences before arriving on campus, focusing primarily on how potential new members (PNMs) use social capital to obtain necessary recommendations from sorority alumnae prior to recruitment and learn about the expectations about the sorority recruitment process at Southern State University. I then describe the bodily practices and behavioral choices of PNMs as they enter the week of formal recruitment, analyzing their interpretations of gender and class expectations within the context of the Greek system at Southern State. Finally, I examine the presentation of self by the sororities themselves and how PNMs understand the concept of "fit." I discuss the interactions between PNMs and sororities on campus, exploring the implications of sorority reputations, the perception of "tiers" within the sorority community at Southern State, and how a PNM's awareness of a particular sorority's reputation on campus will impact her recruitment experience. This study provides a stronger understanding of the individual experiences of PNMs and the impacts of social capital and the understanding of gender and class in the specific context of recruitment. I conclude with a discussion of implications for student affairs professionals and potential opportunities for future sociological research on sororities and recruitment practices.

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