Advanced

Självets garderobiär: självreflexiva genuslekar och queer socialpsykologi

Berg, Martin LU (2008) In Lund Dissertations in Sociology 81.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Det övergripande syftet med föreliggande studie är tudelat. För det första syftar den till att på teoretisk väg etablera en dialog mellan queerteoretisk och socialpsykologisk teoribildning om aktörer och aktörsskap med utgångspunkt i en kritisk läsning av Judith Butler och George Herbert Mead. För det andra syftar den till att på empirisk väg utveckla och fördjupa denna dialog i syfte att demonstrera och resonera kring de möjligheter som uppstår i spänningen mellan dessa teoretiska perspektiv. På detta sätt är avsikten att föra ett bidrag till såväl den queer- och genusteoretiska debatten som dess socialpsykologiska motsvarighet. Ambitionen är att detta sammantaget kan utgöra ett ramverk i vilket... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Det övergripande syftet med föreliggande studie är tudelat. För det första syftar den till att på teoretisk väg etablera en dialog mellan queerteoretisk och socialpsykologisk teoribildning om aktörer och aktörsskap med utgångspunkt i en kritisk läsning av Judith Butler och George Herbert Mead. För det andra syftar den till att på empirisk väg utveckla och fördjupa denna dialog i syfte att demonstrera och resonera kring de möjligheter som uppstår i spänningen mellan dessa teoretiska perspektiv. På detta sätt är avsikten att föra ett bidrag till såväl den queer- och genusteoretiska debatten som dess socialpsykologiska motsvarighet. Ambitionen är att detta sammantaget kan utgöra ett ramverk i vilket möjligheterna med en queer socialpsykologi skisseras. I jämförelsen mellan dessa teoretiska perspektiv fokuseras på frågan om hur människor antas bli till som aktörer och under vilka villkor och genom vilka processer detta äger rum. I centrum för denna diskussion positioneras relationen mellan deras respektive antagande om struktur och aktör samt hur denna relaterar till och förutsätts vara uppburen genom något slags praktik. För det andra diskuteras individens möjlighet att omförhandla sitt förvärvade aktörsskap och genom vilka processer och praktiker detta eventuellt kan göras möjligt.



Avhandlingen är uppdelad i fyra delar. Den inledande delen (del 1: Inledande ord) introducerar studiens övergripande bakgrund, teoretiska position, syfte, material och de metodologiska överväganden som har gjorts under forskningsresans gång.



Den andra delen (del 2: Teoretiska interventioner) utvecklar i tre kapitel den diskussion om spänningen mellan queerteori och socialpsykologi som påbörjades i avhandlingens första och inledande kapitel. I ett första kapitel fokuseras på Judith Butler för att ringa in och granska några centrala argument och faktorer i hennes tänkande. I ett andra kapitel diskuteras George Herbert Mead för att, i likhet med föregående kapitel, presentera hans övergripande argument och huvudsakliga tankegångar. Avslutningsvis avrundas avhandlingens andra del med ett kapitel som syftar till att summera och utveckla den spänningsrelation som hittas mellan dessa två teoretiker samtidigt som en diskussion förs om de möjligheter en empirisk utveckling av den teoretiska problematiken skulle kunna bidra med. Den teoretiska spänning som lokaliseras mellan Mead och Butler kretsar i första hand kring deras förståelse av relationen mellan aktör och praktik och med utgångspunkt i denna formuleras arbetsbegreppen transaktör och transpraktik som genomgående används i presentationen av det empiriska materialet.



Avhandlingens tredje del (del 3: Empiriska nedslag) är i första hand av empirisk karaktär och är uppdelad i två kapitel. I det första av dessa förs en diskussion om hur de självreflexiva genuslekarna inbegriper formulerandet av ett särskilt transgenus och på vad sätt det är möjligt att förstå iscensättandet av genus som en i första hand självkommunikativ praktik. Gradvis demonstreras hur det går att utläsa en önskan om att iscensätta genus tillsammans med andra människor och därför kretsar det följande kapitlet kring en diskussion om betydelsen av social interaktion för detta iscensättande. Med andra ord går det att utläsa en rörelse från självkommunikation till (önskad) social interaktion och detta är ett tema som tydligt ringar in en stor del av den teoretiska problematik som genomsyrar denna studie. I den fjärde och avslutande delen (del 4: Avslutande reflektioner) knyts i tre kapitel de resonemang som hittills har presenterats och diskuterats ihop. Det inledande kapitlet för en teoretiskt orienterad diskussion om den föregående genomgången av det empiriska materialet. I ett därpå följande kapitel fokuseras på olika aspekter av självreflexiva genuslekar i relation till den klädda kroppen för att visa hur den tidigare presenterade praktik- och aktörsproblematiken är avhängig den klädda kroppens genusprägling. I detta sammanhang visas hur det är möjligt att upprätta en relation mellan självets framväxt, subjektivitet och den klädda kroppen. Avslutningsvis förs ett kortfattat resonemang kring avhandlingens huvudsakliga argumentationslinjer och vilka möjligheter ett tänkande inspirerat av queer socialpsykologi för med sig. (Less)
Abstract
In her widely quoted and criticised Gender Trouble, Judith Butler elaborates the idea that gender needs to be understood as performative – a certain kind of “doing” within the regulative realm of a hegemonic heterosexuality that is assumed to govern intelligible bodily configurations. Drawing mainly on psychoanalytical and Foucaultian arguments, Butler dwells upon questions concerning power and subjectivity and argues that bodies, in order to gain an intelligible subjectivity, need to assume a certain relationship between sex, gender and desire. Due to the problematic, and sometimes imprecise, differentiation between the concepts of performance and performativity in her theory as well as the somewhat obscure idea of subjectivity, self and... (More)
In her widely quoted and criticised Gender Trouble, Judith Butler elaborates the idea that gender needs to be understood as performative – a certain kind of “doing” within the regulative realm of a hegemonic heterosexuality that is assumed to govern intelligible bodily configurations. Drawing mainly on psychoanalytical and Foucaultian arguments, Butler dwells upon questions concerning power and subjectivity and argues that bodies, in order to gain an intelligible subjectivity, need to assume a certain relationship between sex, gender and desire. Due to the problematic, and sometimes imprecise, differentiation between the concepts of performance and performativity in her theory as well as the somewhat obscure idea of subjectivity, self and corporeality, which Butler’s theorizing implies, this study argues that her theoretical framework can be amended with the help of a social psychological thinking of the subject. Taking its point of departure in an understanding of subjectivity as enabled and maintained through social interaction, social psychology – as presented by George Herbert Mead – provides a framework for understanding subjectivity in terms of self-reflexivity and communication. Making use of the concept of self, Mead argues that interpersonal communication by means of bodily gestures is what makes subjectivity possible and in that sense he comes up with an idea rather similar to Butler’s argument. Hence, both perspectives focuses the societal or discursive contingent nature of subjectivity and locate its achievement in certain forms of doing. The argument pursued in this dissertation revolves around the relationship between the Butlerian notion of subjectivity and the Meadian concept of self and it is argued that an integrative approach towards these perspectives can enhance and further elaborate an understanding of the processes involved in the doing of gender. In this dissertation it is argued that such a perspective provides the foundation of thinking in terms of a queer social psychology.



Attempting to locate intersections, gaps and similarities between these rather disparate theories, the aim of this study is twofold: Firstly, it aims at establishing a theoretical dialogue between Butler and Mead while focusing on their different, yet also similar, approaches to the interrelationship between actors and agency. Secondly, this study aims at deepening this constructed dialogue empirically in order to further elucidate the similarities and differences between Butler and Mead. The main focus here is a comparison of how they conceive of and theorize the conditions and processes through which subjectivity is made possible. Such an approach involves a critical examination of the possibilities to understand gender performativity in terms of a self-reflexive practice as well as providing a framework for further investigation of the relationship between the social self and discursive regulation. In my attempts to combine these theoretical perspectives I focus on the similarities and differences in their specific contributions. Specifically, this means an attempt to focus on Mead’s notion of self and subjectivity as socially accomplished while, at the same time, comparing this view with Butler’s examination of the relationship between gender and subjectivity. This has led me to underscore the importance of reading Butler’s understanding of gender performativity as a social practice, while at the same time pointing towards the necessity in critically relating Mead’s notion of self to questions regarding regulation of the gendered body.



Historically, social psychological attempts to conceptualize the self have neither sufficiently taken into account questions of embodiment and corporeality, nor sufficiently discussed the regulation of gender and sexuality. In the limited number of studies that do take such issues into consideration, the simple fact that the body most often comes dressed is hardly ever discussed. In the social psychological studies that do consider the importance of the dressed body, issues of gender, sexuality and the obligatory character of heterosexuality are often overlooked. This dissertation aims at overcoming these theoretical obstacles through a combination of empirical and theoretical studies. Being empirically grounded in an analysis of cross-dressers’ self-presentations, questions are asked concerning hegemonic obligatory sexuality or the heterosexual matrix, cultural intelligibility and the importance of the dressed body in the materialization of the gendered subject. Broadening conventional social psychological concerns, it is the case that this dissertation establishes a social psychological account of queer theory and an associated understanding of subject formation, while taking the starting point in the concept and phenomenon of cross-dressing. Working with a perspective influenced by queer theory within the field of social psychology is a problematic venture. In order to understand this state of affairs, I make use of cross-dressing as a means of conceptualising the presence of the obligatory heterosexuality as a symbolic structure in the always on-going process of self-formation and in the ways this process relates to such a seemingly simple act as getting and being dressed.



Empirically, the arguments in this dissertation draw upon an analysis of a large number of digital self-presentations and diaries, authored by self-identified male to female cross-dressers between the ages of 15 and 69. In the beginning of 2004, the empirical material was collected from a virtual community (qruiser.com), aimed at serving the Scandinavian homo-/bisexual and transgender population. The material is perceived as containing fragments of the actors’ attempts and strategies for orienting themselves, expressing dreams and perceptions of dress and gender as well as demonstrating how cross-dressing as a social practice relates to other actors, self-perceptions, space and intelligibility. This empirical study is placed in the earlier mentioned attempt to bridge the differences between queer theory and social psychology.



The first part of this dissertation provides a brief overview of different approaches to the relationship between queer theory and social psychology in more general terms, while also illuminating the need to further explore the relationship between Butler and George Herbert Mead, specifically. In contrast to Butler, Mead provides a comprehensive examination of the social processes through which the self is made possible. Arguing that (self-)consciousness (and thus subjectivity) is accomplished socially, Mead’s social psychology proves to have certain similarities with Butler’s theoretical framework. But while Mead situates the emergence of self and subjectivity within the realm of social interaction, he does not take questions regarding the regulation of gendered bodies into account.



While the first part of this dissertation serves to outline a theoretical framework, the second part consists of an in-depth and comparative reading of Butler and Mead. Introducing and scrutinizing core concepts and lines of reasoning in Butler’s theories of subjectivity, discursive regulation of gender intelligibility and gender performativity, her argumentation is situated in a wider theoretical and political context. The relationship between subjection and subjectivation is examined, leading to an argumentation that her problematic notion of subjectivity as bound up in a discursive web of layers and signs needs to be reconsidered in relation to a social psychological perspective on the dynamic interrelationship between individual and society. While Butler, though implicitly, accentuates the importance of social recognition, this study proposes that the discursive regulation of gender intelligibility needs to be resituated in the realm of social interaction and regarded as bound up in interpersonal relationships. This argument is further developed by exploring Butler’s understanding of the interrelationship between performativity and performance. Understanding gender as a “doing”, it is argued, involves both performativity and performance and thus motivates a further exploration of the possibility of self-reflexive negotiation of gender intelligibility in terms of a social practice.



Turning to a re-examination of Mead, the next chapter explains that his social psychological perspective provides a foundation for understanding agency and subjectivity as resting upon, not a pre-discursive structure but rather a socially conditioned and maintained process of social role-taking. Considering the central issues in his theoretical perspective, Mead’s understanding of the continuously emerging self is further illuminated in the light of his notion of play and game. In this context I argue that an essential link can be found between Mead’s concept of communication with bodily gestures and their development into social acts and Butler’s concept of gender performativity. As Mead conceives that human subjectivity and agency are surfacing through social interaction, I also argue for the necessity to amend his theory with a comprehensive understanding of bodily regulation, as this would help provide an insight into the conditions for role-taking.



In order to deepen the connection between Butler and Mead, while comparing their views on agency and possibility to self-reflexive action, the following chapter puts forward that their understanding of subjection appears to be fundamentally similar. In this chapter it is also suggested that there are some similarities between Mead’s conception of social role-taking as the necessary principle of subjectivity, and Butler’s notion of the relationship between discursive regulation of gender intelligibility and subjectivity. However, whereas Butler sheds light on the regulation of these processes, Mead provides a possibility to understand their position in social practices. Taken together, Butler and Mead offer a foundation for a line of reasoning that takes into account the importance of bodily self-reflexivity in negotiating the boundaries of intelligible gender identity. To further develop this idea and also facilitate a reading of the empirical material presented in chapters six and seven, two concepts are formulated: trans-actor and trans-practice. These concepts serve at providing the cross-dressers with an agency while, at the same time, illuminating the importance of regarding the act of re-dressing the body in a gendered fashion as an explicitly social practice.



The third part of the dissertation turns to my readings of the empirical material. It is first of all demonstrated in what ways cross-dressing can be regarded as a representative example of the Meadian concepts of internal conversation and play. Arguing that cross-dressing to a large extent is a question of self-communicative action involving a drawing of boundaries between femininity and masculinity, this chapter aims at discussing cross-dressing as a means of negotiating gender intelligibility while at the same time locating the objects and actors involved in such a doing. Gradually, the understanding of cross-dressing as a solitary play is moved towards and understanding in terms of a game bound up with certain gender regulating rules. Instead of reading cross-dressing as a deviant form of behaviour, it is understood as a way of doing gender, a negotiation of gender boundaries which at the same time provides a possibility to discuss the regulation of gender in more general terms. Remaining critical to hegemonic heterosexuality, it is possible to enforce the surfacing of a number of important implications for understanding not only cross-dressing as such, but also, and most importantly, mainstream conceptions of gender. Thinking of cross-dressing this way provides a plausible attempt to create a theoretical framework with implications for queer and social psychological inquiry in general. In my readings of the empirical material, numerous conceptions of gender, body and self surface emerge. First of all, it appears that certain ways of acting are believed to be gendered; not that housework (to take one example) ought to be understood as explicitly feminine, but the behaviours in question are regarded as characterizing a specific gender category – as ways of expressing gender, giving it shape and making it plausible. Secondly, performing certain behaviours seems to be constrained by the actor’s bodily appearance. Accomplishing a bodily appearance in line with the cultural regulations of femininity appears to enable or facilitate a behavioural transition from certain gender-specific actions to others. Self-perceptions, bodily appearances and bodily actions appear to be intertwined in different ways, and the putting on of certain gendered clothing seems to enable a perceived temporary transition from one gender to the other. It can be said that the self-presentations provide a whole series of demonstrations of gender as a doing and, simultaneously, illuminating the role of clothing as both enabling and preventing these doings. One of the main concerns in the self-presentations appears to be the experienced ability to re-form the bodily surfaces by means of clothing. Hence, cross-dressing can be regarded as a way of creating a bodily appearance that in the long run contributes to the emergence of not only gestural patterns and bodily attitudes but significantly, it provides the continuously emerging self with altered and stretched boundaries. The self-presentations provide an example of how the complexity, content, form and style of the cross-dressers’ wardrobes play a significant role in the act of cross-dressing. Bodily appearances are altered and a remodelling of the self is accomplished by means of objects and techniques that are thought of as gendered. As a consequence, not only the bodily appearance becomes altered but it also implies a remodelling of the self as such. As a consequence, it is argued that going into the wardrobe facilitates the coming out of the closet.



In the fourth and concluding part of the dissertation, general theoretical and empirical topics are put in relation to the dressed body. The conception of dress as determining the boundaries of both self and gender was a recurring theme in the empirical material, and this suggests that it is important to consider the multiplicity of tensions and perceptions involved in the empirical material. I draw the conclusion that certain kinds of gendered clothing appear to materialise a desired transition from masculine to feminine and at the same time negotiating the category boundaries. In that sense, I suggest that it is possible to create an understanding of subjectivities through wardrobes. Wardrobes make a statement of who we are, what gender we have and provide limitations as well as possibilities for human agency. The cross-dressers in the empirical material frequently refer to themselves in terms of clothing and when presenting their cross-dressed selves, the wardrobe – its size and complexity – is used as a significant indicator for indicating change in their gendered self and subjectivity. The cross-dressed self, then, can be regarded as partly located in possessing and using gendered objects since these objects engender the performance of certain gendered behaviours. Understood in this way, intelligible action is bound up with bodily appearance: gendered clothing disciplines bodies; through tying together gestures and bodily appearances, controlling them, excluding them from each other, and fixing them in time and space, making them inextricably inseparable.



Intervening in the fields of social psychology and queer studies, as is done in this dissertation, a demonstration of the multitude of processes involved in doing gender is allowed while at the same time challenging the social psychological understanding of the self. As a result, an understanding of the ways in which actors relate to discourse is established: while negotiating its constraints, re-signifying its foundation and giving its materialised bodies new shapes and meanings through the act of getting dressed in various, yet gendered ways. Thinking of gender this way, gender is regarded as a doing, a performance of gestures and acts that appear to be compulsory and constrained by discursive regulations, but at the same time possible to negotiate through socially mediated self-reflexive practices. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Associate professor Lindholm, Margareta, University of Gothenburg
organization
alternative title
The fabricated self: self-reflexive gender play and queer social psychology
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
symbolic interactionism, body, clothing, Internet, dress, virtual communities, social psychology, Queer theory, Judith Butler, George H. Mead, self, gender, sexuality, transvestism, subjectivity, sociologi, cross-dressing, sociology
in
Lund Dissertations in Sociology
volume
81
pages
283 pages
publisher
Lund University (Media-Tryck)
defense location
Palaestras Hörsal, Universitetsplatsen, Lund
defense date
2008-04-05 10:15
ISSN
1102-4712
ISBN
91-7267-257-9
language
Swedish
LU publication?
yes
id
96f3f5d9-872b-429e-98fd-429e417168a0 (old id 1026192)
date added to LUP
2008-03-05 14:57:42
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:47
@phdthesis{96f3f5d9-872b-429e-98fd-429e417168a0,
  abstract     = {In her widely quoted and criticised Gender Trouble, Judith Butler elaborates the idea that gender needs to be understood as performative – a certain kind of “doing” within the regulative realm of a hegemonic heterosexuality that is assumed to govern intelligible bodily configurations. Drawing mainly on psychoanalytical and Foucaultian arguments, Butler dwells upon questions concerning power and subjectivity and argues that bodies, in order to gain an intelligible subjectivity, need to assume a certain relationship between sex, gender and desire. Due to the problematic, and sometimes imprecise, differentiation between the concepts of performance and performativity in her theory as well as the somewhat obscure idea of subjectivity, self and corporeality, which Butler’s theorizing implies, this study argues that her theoretical framework can be amended with the help of a social psychological thinking of the subject. Taking its point of departure in an understanding of subjectivity as enabled and maintained through social interaction, social psychology – as presented by George Herbert Mead – provides a framework for understanding subjectivity in terms of self-reflexivity and communication. Making use of the concept of self, Mead argues that interpersonal communication by means of bodily gestures is what makes subjectivity possible and in that sense he comes up with an idea rather similar to Butler’s argument. Hence, both perspectives focuses the societal or discursive contingent nature of subjectivity and locate its achievement in certain forms of doing. The argument pursued in this dissertation revolves around the relationship between the Butlerian notion of subjectivity and the Meadian concept of self and it is argued that an integrative approach towards these perspectives can enhance and further elaborate an understanding of the processes involved in the doing of gender. In this dissertation it is argued that such a perspective provides the foundation of thinking in terms of a queer social psychology.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Attempting to locate intersections, gaps and similarities between these rather disparate theories, the aim of this study is twofold: Firstly, it aims at establishing a theoretical dialogue between Butler and Mead while focusing on their different, yet also similar, approaches to the interrelationship between actors and agency. Secondly, this study aims at deepening this constructed dialogue empirically in order to further elucidate the similarities and differences between Butler and Mead. The main focus here is a comparison of how they conceive of and theorize the conditions and processes through which subjectivity is made possible. Such an approach involves a critical examination of the possibilities to understand gender performativity in terms of a self-reflexive practice as well as providing a framework for further investigation of the relationship between the social self and discursive regulation. In my attempts to combine these theoretical perspectives I focus on the similarities and differences in their specific contributions. Specifically, this means an attempt to focus on Mead’s notion of self and subjectivity as socially accomplished while, at the same time, comparing this view with Butler’s examination of the relationship between gender and subjectivity. This has led me to underscore the importance of reading Butler’s understanding of gender performativity as a social practice, while at the same time pointing towards the necessity in critically relating Mead’s notion of self to questions regarding regulation of the gendered body. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
Historically, social psychological attempts to conceptualize the self have neither sufficiently taken into account questions of embodiment and corporeality, nor sufficiently discussed the regulation of gender and sexuality. In the limited number of studies that do take such issues into consideration, the simple fact that the body most often comes dressed is hardly ever discussed. In the social psychological studies that do consider the importance of the dressed body, issues of gender, sexuality and the obligatory character of heterosexuality are often overlooked. This dissertation aims at overcoming these theoretical obstacles through a combination of empirical and theoretical studies. Being empirically grounded in an analysis of cross-dressers’ self-presentations, questions are asked concerning hegemonic obligatory sexuality or the heterosexual matrix, cultural intelligibility and the importance of the dressed body in the materialization of the gendered subject. Broadening conventional social psychological concerns, it is the case that this dissertation establishes a social psychological account of queer theory and an associated understanding of subject formation, while taking the starting point in the concept and phenomenon of cross-dressing. Working with a perspective influenced by queer theory within the field of social psychology is a problematic venture. In order to understand this state of affairs, I make use of cross-dressing as a means of conceptualising the presence of the obligatory heterosexuality as a symbolic structure in the always on-going process of self-formation and in the ways this process relates to such a seemingly simple act as getting and being dressed.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Empirically, the arguments in this dissertation draw upon an analysis of a large number of digital self-presentations and diaries, authored by self-identified male to female cross-dressers between the ages of 15 and 69. In the beginning of 2004, the empirical material was collected from a virtual community (qruiser.com), aimed at serving the Scandinavian homo-/bisexual and transgender population. The material is perceived as containing fragments of the actors’ attempts and strategies for orienting themselves, expressing dreams and perceptions of dress and gender as well as demonstrating how cross-dressing as a social practice relates to other actors, self-perceptions, space and intelligibility. This empirical study is placed in the earlier mentioned attempt to bridge the differences between queer theory and social psychology.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The first part of this dissertation provides a brief overview of different approaches to the relationship between queer theory and social psychology in more general terms, while also illuminating the need to further explore the relationship between Butler and George Herbert Mead, specifically. In contrast to Butler, Mead provides a comprehensive examination of the social processes through which the self is made possible. Arguing that (self-)consciousness (and thus subjectivity) is accomplished socially, Mead’s social psychology proves to have certain similarities with Butler’s theoretical framework. But while Mead situates the emergence of self and subjectivity within the realm of social interaction, he does not take questions regarding the regulation of gendered bodies into account.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
While the first part of this dissertation serves to outline a theoretical framework, the second part consists of an in-depth and comparative reading of Butler and Mead. Introducing and scrutinizing core concepts and lines of reasoning in Butler’s theories of subjectivity, discursive regulation of gender intelligibility and gender performativity, her argumentation is situated in a wider theoretical and political context. The relationship between subjection and subjectivation is examined, leading to an argumentation that her problematic notion of subjectivity as bound up in a discursive web of layers and signs needs to be reconsidered in relation to a social psychological perspective on the dynamic interrelationship between individual and society. While Butler, though implicitly, accentuates the importance of social recognition, this study proposes that the discursive regulation of gender intelligibility needs to be resituated in the realm of social interaction and regarded as bound up in interpersonal relationships. This argument is further developed by exploring Butler’s understanding of the interrelationship between performativity and performance. Understanding gender as a “doing”, it is argued, involves both performativity and performance and thus motivates a further exploration of the possibility of self-reflexive negotiation of gender intelligibility in terms of a social practice.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Turning to a re-examination of Mead, the next chapter explains that his social psychological perspective provides a foundation for understanding agency and subjectivity as resting upon, not a pre-discursive structure but rather a socially conditioned and maintained process of social role-taking. Considering the central issues in his theoretical perspective, Mead’s understanding of the continuously emerging self is further illuminated in the light of his notion of play and game. In this context I argue that an essential link can be found between Mead’s concept of communication with bodily gestures and their development into social acts and Butler’s concept of gender performativity. As Mead conceives that human subjectivity and agency are surfacing through social interaction, I also argue for the necessity to amend his theory with a comprehensive understanding of bodily regulation, as this would help provide an insight into the conditions for role-taking.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
In order to deepen the connection between Butler and Mead, while comparing their views on agency and possibility to self-reflexive action, the following chapter puts forward that their understanding of subjection appears to be fundamentally similar. In this chapter it is also suggested that there are some similarities between Mead’s conception of social role-taking as the necessary principle of subjectivity, and Butler’s notion of the relationship between discursive regulation of gender intelligibility and subjectivity. However, whereas Butler sheds light on the regulation of these processes, Mead provides a possibility to understand their position in social practices. Taken together, Butler and Mead offer a foundation for a line of reasoning that takes into account the importance of bodily self-reflexivity in negotiating the boundaries of intelligible gender identity. To further develop this idea and also facilitate a reading of the empirical material presented in chapters six and seven, two concepts are formulated: trans-actor and trans-practice. These concepts serve at providing the cross-dressers with an agency while, at the same time, illuminating the importance of regarding the act of re-dressing the body in a gendered fashion as an explicitly social practice.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The third part of the dissertation turns to my readings of the empirical material. It is first of all demonstrated in what ways cross-dressing can be regarded as a representative example of the Meadian concepts of internal conversation and play. Arguing that cross-dressing to a large extent is a question of self-communicative action involving a drawing of boundaries between femininity and masculinity, this chapter aims at discussing cross-dressing as a means of negotiating gender intelligibility while at the same time locating the objects and actors involved in such a doing. Gradually, the understanding of cross-dressing as a solitary play is moved towards and understanding in terms of a game bound up with certain gender regulating rules. Instead of reading cross-dressing as a deviant form of behaviour, it is understood as a way of doing gender, a negotiation of gender boundaries which at the same time provides a possibility to discuss the regulation of gender in more general terms. Remaining critical to hegemonic heterosexuality, it is possible to enforce the surfacing of a number of important implications for understanding not only cross-dressing as such, but also, and most importantly, mainstream conceptions of gender. Thinking of cross-dressing this way provides a plausible attempt to create a theoretical framework with implications for queer and social psychological inquiry in general. In my readings of the empirical material, numerous conceptions of gender, body and self surface emerge. First of all, it appears that certain ways of acting are believed to be gendered; not that housework (to take one example) ought to be understood as explicitly feminine, but the behaviours in question are regarded as characterizing a specific gender category – as ways of expressing gender, giving it shape and making it plausible. Secondly, performing certain behaviours seems to be constrained by the actor’s bodily appearance. Accomplishing a bodily appearance in line with the cultural regulations of femininity appears to enable or facilitate a behavioural transition from certain gender-specific actions to others. Self-perceptions, bodily appearances and bodily actions appear to be intertwined in different ways, and the putting on of certain gendered clothing seems to enable a perceived temporary transition from one gender to the other. It can be said that the self-presentations provide a whole series of demonstrations of gender as a doing and, simultaneously, illuminating the role of clothing as both enabling and preventing these doings. One of the main concerns in the self-presentations appears to be the experienced ability to re-form the bodily surfaces by means of clothing. Hence, cross-dressing can be regarded as a way of creating a bodily appearance that in the long run contributes to the emergence of not only gestural patterns and bodily attitudes but significantly, it provides the continuously emerging self with altered and stretched boundaries. The self-presentations provide an example of how the complexity, content, form and style of the cross-dressers’ wardrobes play a significant role in the act of cross-dressing. Bodily appearances are altered and a remodelling of the self is accomplished by means of objects and techniques that are thought of as gendered. As a consequence, not only the bodily appearance becomes altered but it also implies a remodelling of the self as such. As a consequence, it is argued that going into the wardrobe facilitates the coming out of the closet.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
In the fourth and concluding part of the dissertation, general theoretical and empirical topics are put in relation to the dressed body. The conception of dress as determining the boundaries of both self and gender was a recurring theme in the empirical material, and this suggests that it is important to consider the multiplicity of tensions and perceptions involved in the empirical material. I draw the conclusion that certain kinds of gendered clothing appear to materialise a desired transition from masculine to feminine and at the same time negotiating the category boundaries. In that sense, I suggest that it is possible to create an understanding of subjectivities through wardrobes. Wardrobes make a statement of who we are, what gender we have and provide limitations as well as possibilities for human agency. The cross-dressers in the empirical material frequently refer to themselves in terms of clothing and when presenting their cross-dressed selves, the wardrobe – its size and complexity – is used as a significant indicator for indicating change in their gendered self and subjectivity. The cross-dressed self, then, can be regarded as partly located in possessing and using gendered objects since these objects engender the performance of certain gendered behaviours. Understood in this way, intelligible action is bound up with bodily appearance: gendered clothing disciplines bodies; through tying together gestures and bodily appearances, controlling them, excluding them from each other, and fixing them in time and space, making them inextricably inseparable. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
Intervening in the fields of social psychology and queer studies, as is done in this dissertation, a demonstration of the multitude of processes involved in doing gender is allowed while at the same time challenging the social psychological understanding of the self. As a result, an understanding of the ways in which actors relate to discourse is established: while negotiating its constraints, re-signifying its foundation and giving its materialised bodies new shapes and meanings through the act of getting dressed in various, yet gendered ways. Thinking of gender this way, gender is regarded as a doing, a performance of gestures and acts that appear to be compulsory and constrained by discursive regulations, but at the same time possible to negotiate through socially mediated self-reflexive practices.},
  author       = {Berg, Martin},
  isbn         = {91-7267-257-9},
  issn         = {1102-4712},
  keyword      = {symbolic interactionism,body,clothing,Internet,dress,virtual communities,social psychology,Queer theory,Judith Butler,George H. Mead,self,gender,sexuality,transvestism,subjectivity,sociologi,cross-dressing,sociology},
  language     = {swe},
  pages        = {283},
  publisher    = {Lund University (Media-Tryck)},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Lund Dissertations in Sociology},
  title        = {Självets garderobiär: självreflexiva genuslekar och queer socialpsykologi},
  volume       = {81},
  year         = {2008},
}