Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Spring 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Sociology

First Advisor

Alison Bianchi

Abstract

With the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and the plethora of institutionalized legal changes supporting LGBTQ rights, one might argue that American society is well on its way towards equality for LGBTQ individuals, thus negating the need for research in this area. Unfortunately, history has shown that despite profound changes in the codification of legal standards, which eliminates de jure prejudice, inequality in the informal and interactional experiences of individuals, or de facto prejudice, often remains. My long-term research goal is to study, at the level of interaction, the basic processes and mechanisms that produce social inequality experienced by LGBTQ individuals. I have adapted theories from the Expectation States research program (Wagner and Berger 2002), specifically status characteristics theory (Berger, Fisek, Norman, and Zelditch 1977) and status cue theory (Fisek, Berger and Norman 2005) to motivate my hypotheses concerning sexual orientation and group encounters. Then, I designed an experiment using the computerized standardized experimental setting (Foshi, Lai and Sigerson 1994) to test my hypotheses. The central research question is: will homosexuality act as a negatively valued status characteristic leading to gay and lesbian individuals having lower performance expectations, less opportunities to perform in a group, and ultimately lower status as compared to straight group members. My rationale is that a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that work to produce this form of inequality in groups will ultimately provide important opportunities for interventions to these processes of discrimination.

Public Abstract

With the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and the plethora of institutionalized legal changes supporting LGBTQ rights, one might argue that American society is well on its way towards equality for LGBTQ individuals, thus negating the need for research in this area. Unfortunately, history has shown that despite profound changes in the codification of legal standards, which eliminates de jure prejudice, inequality in the informal and interactional experiences of individuals, or de facto prejudice, often remains. My long-term research goal is to study, at the level of interaction, the basic processes and mechanisms that produce social inequality experienced by LGBTQ individuals. I have adapted theories from the Expectation States research program (Wagner and Berger 2002), specifically status characteristics theory (Berger, Fişek, Norman, and Zelditch 1977) and status cue theory (Fişek, Berger and Norman 2005) to motivate my hypotheses concerning sexual orientation and group encounters. Then, I designed an experiment using the computerized standardized experimental setting (Foshi, Lai and Sigerson 1994) to test my hypotheses. The central research question is: will homosexuality act as a negatively valued status characteristic leading to gay and lesbian individuals having lower performance expectations, less opportunities to perform in a group, and ultimately lower status as compared to straight group members. My rationale is that a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that work to produce this form of inequality in groups will ultimately provide important opportunities for interventions to these processes of discrimination.

Keywords

publicabstract, Expectations States Theory, Feminist Theory, Gender, Interaction, Sexual Orientation, Social Psychology

Pages

xvi, 248 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 236-248).

Copyright

Copyright 2015 Miriam Elana Verploegh

Included in

Sociology Commons

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