This dissertation is an ethnography explaining how old White straight middle-class
men in quasi-suburbia work on a day-to-day basis to meet the demand of becoming
visible to themselves and others as "good men." While much of my nearly four years
of fieldwork was conducted amongst a group of morning regulars at a corner donut
shop, I also spent considerable hours with the morning regulars in other settings.
We attended varied social events together - from birthday parties to garage sales to
memorial services. Within the constellation of privilege their social categorizations
accord, I came to understand how these men grappled with the marginalizing forces
associated with old age. In the absence of widespread, coercive cultural scripts outlining what constitutes "acceptable" manhood in old age, the morning regulars at
the donut shop have constructed their own conception of what constitutes "good
manhood." As a moral identity for the morning regulars, to be known as a "good
man" means (1) to be seen by others as having overcome hardship in meritocratic
ways and hence having "earned" the right to the relative comfort their retirement
affords and (2) to be seen by others as engaging in everyday conduct that is morally
and ethically "right." For these men, a "good man" "keeps busy" and "helps out."