Getting ready for work: Working-class women's rituals, behaviors and attitudes toward their appearance and work

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


Julia Loughlin


sociology, women's studies, women workers

Subject Categories

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Mass Communication


This study examines the rituals, shopping behavior, information sources, opinions and attitudes three groups of working-class women employed in pink-collar professions have toward their work-related appearance. In-depth interviews were conducted among 18 women working at three different organizations that can be deemed, "beauty-bound" (Wolf, 1991). Each of these firms (department store, daily newspaper and large college) located in the eastern United States expects their female employees to pay attention to dress and grooming. Each organization enforces some type of institutionalized dress code ranging from lenient to strict. Through Goffman's interaction ritual perspective and dramaturgical sociology, this study makes visible these working-women's highly disciplined self-presentation rituals, budgetary constraints on the purchases of their work clothes, and the reactions their appearance engenders in the workplace.


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