Faculty Publications

Title

Conspicuously consuming: The red hat society and midlife women's identity

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Conspicuous consumption, Group identity, Identity development, Midlife women, Red Hat Society, Women and aging

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Contemporary Ethnography

Volume

38

Issue

2

First Page

225

Last Page

253

Abstract

Drawing from interviews and fieldwork with Red Hat Society members (RHS), we consider the growing consumer culture of the RHS, how members conspicuously consume red and purple dress, and for what purposes they do so. RHS members in this study develop visible group identity, reinforce traditional gendered behavior, and challenge publicly what it means to be "old." We investigate consumption as a means of discerning whether midlife women's participation in RHS is a commodity to be marketed, bought, and sold. Is the public space that RHS women take up collectively challenging the ageist ways in which society views aging women? We investigate the consumer culture of the RHS to determine possible links between conspicuous consumption and group identity within the cultural context of aging women's social invisibility.

Original Publication Date

4-1-2009

DOI of published version

10.1177/0891241608316997

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