Culture and identity expression in interiors : an ethnography of sorority study rooms Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/st74cs76q

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  • This ethnographic study describes the patterns of decorating in the study rooms of university sorority women. The primary method of data were collection was by means of interviews with sorority members. Observations and photographs of the study rooms of these members supplemented the interviews and provided validation for categorization purposes. A large body of research exists related to the effects and implications of sorority membership. Because much of this research is quantitative, it does not allow for the descriptive type data collected in the context of the culture which may be utilized in a qualitative study. The purpose of the present study was to document the decorating patterns of the informants and to identify cultural values and expressions of individual identity in the decoration of their living spaces. This study contributes to existing research on college student decorating patterns by relating the items used for decorations to cultural and individual values. In addition, it provides a detailed description of how the space in the study rooms is utilized. The data are also evaluated based on demographic information gathered. The results of this study indicated that the members of Alpha Beta sorority expressed certain cultural values by using similar items to decorate their rooms and by exhibiting common ways of using their living space. One of the values expressed by the members in their decorating was that of comfort, both physical and mental. Comfort was demonstrated in conditions such as the degree of tidiness of the room, the color scheme, the photos on display or the level of self expression available to the individual. Examples of identity expression were also evident in these study rooms. Items indicating personal accomplishments, items from personal collections and objects used for hobbies were found in many rooms. Conclusions drawn from this study were first, that the desire to decorate was nearly universal among the members of Alpha Beta sorority. Second, the desire for self expression seemed to be a significant motivation for decorating, although there was evidence of some peer pressure as well. Third, decorating generally, and decorating using a theme, appeared to be a behavior members embraced more readily over time. Interactions over time allowed for the cultural values related to decorating the study room to be acquired. This process is facilitated by the significance of the social network within the sorority culture. This study contributes to an understanding of how cultural and personal values are expressed in the study rooms of sorority women, and by extension, the values that could be expected in other interior environments.
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