Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

Department

Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

First Advisor

Karl Aspelund

Abstract

Dress and appearance are regulated in minute detail for members of the Rhode Island National Guard, as they are for all in the US military. In practice, adherence to these regulations is both imperfect and variable. This study explored the extent and form of variations from the ideal in Rhode Island National Guard uniform practices as well as the ideal military service-members are expected to emulate and how military uniform policies were enforced.

Individual interviews were conducted with thirteen former members of the RI National Guard. Topics of discussion included levels of strictness or laxity encountered, opinions on various uniforms worn, the ideal image of the military service-member, how uniforms were cared for, what individualization's were permitted, how rules differed for different groups within the military, and so forth. The principles of grounded theory, in which theory is induced from the data after generation and analysis, as described by Mayan (2009, 47-48), structured the analysis.

Interviewees agreed that recruiting imagery strongly reflected the ideal image they were expected to conform to. The researcher found that a consistent vocabulary was used to describe their experiences and opinions according to particular dichotomies. Both male and female interviewees described the particular difficulties had by female service-members. Uniform policies and designs were shown to have the power to integrate or to exclude. In the conclusion, specific recommendations are given for policies and designs that may help integrate various marginalized groups.

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