Workin' Man Blues: Negotiating Class and Gender in a Downwardly Mobile Timber Community

Katherine Hood : Sociology

Mentor: Professor Michael Hout

While the recent economic downturn has brought national attention to the plight of the newly unemployed, downward mobility has been a steady feature of American society for generations. For Americans, however, downward mobility means facing not only declining economic prospects, but also the stigma of violating a cherished cultural norm: the pursuit of the American dream and the achievement of upward mobility. Katherine will travel to rural Oregon to conduct in-depth interviews with people affected by the decline of the timber industry, a once booming business that offered a chance at a middle class lifestyle. Katherine will look at how the loss of both socioeconomic status and the traditionally masculine identities tied to this work shape rural residents' relationship to larger cultural expectations surrounding opportunity and success in America.