Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

How kids create and experience gender and race

Valerie Ann Moore, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study seeks to join the emerging literature that uses an interactionist approach to empirically examine how kids develop their own constructions of gender and race. Participant observation took place in two distinctive summer day camps: a predominantly white "typical" camp, where camp groups were segregated by gender; and a "racially mixed" "cultural awareness" camp, with a program intended to encourage kids to learn non-sexist and non-racist ways of being. Examination of the kids' social practices and conversations show that: kids at the "typical" camp constructed masculinity defensively, protecting its vulnerability from loss of power; and kids at the "cultural awareness" camp constructed race with more fluid and shifting boundaries than did kids at the "typical" camp. In these ways, social context mattered. Several of the ways in which kids "did" gender and race, though, seemed to transcend context: kids at both camps constructed a firm gender boundary in which older white kids segregated themselves; and kids at both camps constructed whiteness as an invisible racial category. Overall, the data support three theoretical generalizations: (1) gender and race are more flexible than the culture often portrays them to be; (2) gender, race and age are inseparable; and, (3) kids "do" gender, race and age actively in response to the situation, not passively in response to biology or socialization.

Subject Area

Sociology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Moore, Valerie Ann, "How kids create and experience gender and race" (1997). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9737565.