Portland State University. Department of Sociology
Date of Publication
Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology
Homosexuality, Identity (Psychology)
Digitized photocopy of typescript.
It is through the announcement and placement of various identities that one is able to enter into various types of social relations. Identity is a label used to describe a person in a particular situation as being a kind of social object. A person announces his identity and others place him as having this identity on the basis of his appearance. Structural relations have been defined as relations where one may enter by using a title, while interpersonal relations are entered by using a name or nickname. Structural identities place people in categories, while separating them from others in different categories. Names are used to identify an individual and thus, distinguish him from all other individuals.
It has been the purpose of this thesis to gain an understanding of an empirical world (gay drinking places) through the application of the theoretical concept of identity as discussed by those in the interactionist perspective.
The method of participant observation was used to gather the data for this investigation. The role of "participant-as- observer" was assumed. The observations were conducted in male gay drinking places in an urban area over a period of three months. Both informal and formal interviews were conducted with informants.
It was found that in the gay drinking places there are different structural identities which may be announced and placed in order to enter into structural relations. In most situations these structural identities are announced and placed on the basis of appearance. Knowledge of these structural identities allows the exploration of the relations between those presenting a specific structural identity with those presenting the same structural identity and with those presenting different structural identities.
While the announcement and placement of identities facilitates interaction, in some cases it may preclude interaction. Additionally, It is suggested that the various gay bars and taverns acquire imputed identities. The subject of identity transformation in the gay drinking places was also investigated. When a person new to the gay subculture is aspiring to the identity of gay regular, he must learn how to announce this identity. Gay drinking places serve as places where the individual may announce his intention of becoming a gay regular and where he may meet others who have the identity to which he is aspiring. In gay drinking places he enters into a coaching relationship with other gay regulars who serve as models for him, teach him how to appear, and define the various situations in which he finds himself.
Names and nicknames are used to enter into interpersonal relations with others in the gay drinking places. In the gay drinking places, it was found that while a person's structural identity indicates that the person can be shown to be a specific type of person, it is a person's name or nickname which identifies him as an individual. In interaction, a name brings to mind various situationally relevant elements of biographical information. The biographical information which may be brought to mind is in many cases limited to information accumulated about the person's activities in the gay drinking places because last names are rarely used.
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White, Sharon Gertrude, "Identities in gay drinking places" (1971). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1538.