Class Acts and Class Work

Karen W. Tice

in Queens of Academe

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199842780
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933440 | DOI:
Class Acts and Class Work

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In this chapter, three case studies explore the micro-politics of class in campus beauty pageants and training of campus queens. It analyzes how class is reduced to a matter of self-production, not social location, and inequality is seen as a result of improper subjectivities. It dissects the class-coded meanings and performances of poise, image, etiquette, social savvy, and body regulation within pageants. It also considers the diffusion of neo-liberal makeover technologies. Discourses of self-improvement, makeover, and class mobility in popular culture, especially the diffusion of reality TV to campuses, are emphasized. One case study analyzes the instruction in etiquette, style, and personal packaging designed to erase stigmatizing markers of class disadvantage that is championed at an annual national training conference for black college queens. Two other case studies analyze the performance of class proficiencies at two state-wide, predominantly white collegiate pageants, the Kentucky Derby Princess Festival and the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival.

Keywords: micro-politics of class; class disadvantage; makeover technologies; etiquette; personal packaging; class signifiers; class performance; poise; self-presentation; reality TV

Chapter.  15767 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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