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A Romeo Club in a Donut Shop

  • Author(s): Murphy, Scott Patrick
  • Advisor(s): Brooks, Scott N
  • et al.
Abstract

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."

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