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response to Stuck055's week 4 blog

I agree that Ostrander's way of studying the women of the upper class would have been more successful if she had interviewed and incorporated the views from women outside of the upper class. When reading this article, a show I have seen a few times on cable, "Housewives Of..." kept popping into my mind.  While this show is about upper class women from various areas of the United States, they do think in ways that are similar to the upper class women in the Ostrander article.  Like the article though, the show is about the upper class women, no women from other classes are in the shows.


Blog 4

While Ostrander and Patillo-McCoy did both study the groups the wrote about, they had very different methods of study. Ostrander used interviews to show the subjects' perspectives on their own lives. I found this to be very interesting, mostly because they did not say the things I expected them to say. For what she was studying, I think this method was effective. However, I did have a problem with the way she sometimes summarized the responses. She often said things like 'Mrs. so-and-so then implied...'. I guess I'd like to know what Mrs. so-and-so actually said. The reader really has to trust the author's generalizations, and I don't know if that's the best way to present this type of data.


Oullette was successful with her media approach. She was looking at one magazine's influence on a much larger group of women. For this the media data is relevant. But the article I found most successful was the Patillo-McCoy. This used both statistics and interviews as well as discussing the mainstream coverage of poorer African-Americans. I felt like this gave us the most varied sources to support the author's conclusions.

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All three approaches seem to be fairly effective, yet all three could be improved upon.


Patillio-McCoy conducted her own research because she was displeased with the lack of research and media attention given to middle-class African Americans. In conducting her own research, she created a slight bias, leaving the reader wondering how much to believe. She also lacked statistical data. Patillio-McCoy brought up some good points, but her arguments could have been made stronger had she analyzed multiple different black communities.


Similar to Patillio-McCoy, Ostrander lacked concrete data to back up her findings, but performed her own research, which I think is necessary when focusing on such under-researched populations because the misconceptions/stereotypes produced by the media may leave very little factual information regarding those populations. I think first-hand accounts are very valuable to the early stages of research.

Ouellette research was great because she used a wide range of sources. We have all been taught that the best research stems from a variety of resources.  It gives perspective and helps solidify facts. However, she focused most of her research on one person; Helen Gurley Brown. This limits her findings in the same way that Patillio-McCoy and Ostrander's findings are limited.


All three researchers focused most of their attention on one person or population of people. Further research is necessary in all three cases.

Blog 4

I think the opinions expressed of both Ostrander, Patillo and are very similar in that they both are concerned of the welfare of women after the supossed impressions are made at a young age. By studying a specific group we have a clearer understanding of thoose particular  factors however, they do not apply to all especially female. I agree about the cosmo girl comments however, her comments reinforce the Feminist/anti-man steroeotype. The overall case in gender, race and class equality is the decsioin to deciede and be who you want to be. If I want to be a cosmo girl shouldnt I be allowed my privllige to deciede?

Blog Post 4

Of the three studies of class identity, I felt Patill-McCoys methodological approach to be the most successful. Her argument that class identity is more than just economically derived is backed up by her own comprehensive research within a black middle class community. The experiences that she shares with the reader highlight socially created restraints of class, in addition to income levels.


While Ostranda's piece surprised me a bit, in that the women she interviewed attained their class more to their lineages than their nuclear family's income levels, we can't be sure that the small group of upper class women that she interviewed is representative of all women in the upper crust. Still, her interviews seem to be a good starting point for building ideas for further and more detailed research into upper class women.


The methodology of Oulette's article seemed to me the least methodological approach in that she used just one source to explore the attitudes towards class identity of the "pink collar" workers of the 60s and 70s. Because the  "Cosmopolitan" magazine has been so successful, there is an implied agreement of its statements among its readers, but by Outlette's own admission she did not explore the true feelings of the readers, or other young women non-readers for that matter.

A Spectrum of Classes

Given the two methodological approaches, I think that Ostrander and Patillo-McCoy's approach was more successful. Each of their articles was easier to read and understand. Ostrander gave specific quotes and interactions that she witnessed from her interviews with the people that lived the lives. For example, on page 33 Ostrander writes about what some of the women were telling her about Mrs. Appleton, that she "was not very serious about her volunteer work." In Patillo- McCoy's article, she also follows a specific group of people to analyze their various experiences. She writes that at the end of her research, she has seen students graduate from high school and go on to college or live with a drug dealer who would eventually be killed. These authors' arguments are strengthened by the reality of the lives they studied.

The gaps in their arguments come from the specificity of their studies. Their strength is a weakness at the same time. By interviewing only one group of women or one neighborhood in Chicago, one cannot get a full picture of class nationally or globally. It even varies greatly within Ostrander's article about the upper-class women. The reason I disliked Oullette's article is that it focuses mostly on the viewpoint of the one woman, Helen Gurley Brown. We hear little from the women who read Cosmopolitan or from those who think it is a waste of time and live happy or successful lives without it. It is also somewhat outdated as it only focuses on the Cosmo of the 1960s and '70s.

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When reading these articles, I get the impression that both Ostrander and Patillo-McCoy are documenting in an unbiased way,  the view from the classes they are discussing. However, Oullette has a more obvious agenda in her article, and though I agree with the argument she puts forth, its also very colored with her opinion, even as she uses documents as support. For this reason, I find "The Meaning of Upper Class" and "Black Picket Fences" more reliable, for their scientific methodology. However, having said that, I think writing either "The Meaning of Upper Class" or "Black Picket Fences" requires a more methodological approach in its dissection of these two wildly different classes, because they are rooted in volatile, touchy subjects to begin with. Discussing why women of the upper class feel moral superiority is infuriating on its own, and doesn't need to be embellished. Pattillo-McCoy's study on the ways in which the black middle class is not equal to the white middle class using Groveland as an example encourages questioning of our "integrated" communities by itself. I think Oullette's argument that the Cosmo Girl is meant to encourage the middle class working girl to assimilate to the bourgeoisie is not hugely anger-inducing, but certainly something that should be questioned.  

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All three authors take different approaches to evaluating women of different classes. I think Ostrander's approach of interviewing women of the upper class was an effective approach. So often we only get to see the viewpoint of the party, which we believe to be the most oppressed. Getting a viewpoint from the "privileged" party, is the first step to understanding why people are or aren't oppressed. " As evidenced from these responses, upper-class women see themselves and their class as 'outstanding leaders' in the community, and deserving of the special regard in which they are held and of the rewards that follow." (25). These women feel that by being of a higher class, they deserve to be seen as better than others.

Ouellette used Cosmopolitan magazine to explore women and class. What she uncovered is basically that the way society define femininity was by how much a woman had. The more make-up, dresses, and fine cuisine a girl acquired, the more feminine and desirable she would be to men of the upper class.  The idea of Cosmopolitan was to teach girls of lower classes how to fake being a part of the upper crust. While I think that this article was conducive to the idea of women and class identity (media has a major impact on people in our society), it still leaves out how race is tied in.

I think a more effective article would include both the perspectives of Ostrander and Ouellette, along with a credible source that evaluates the whole spectrum of women of different, races and classes. 

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I believe Susan Ostrander, Laurie Ouellette and Mary Pattillo-McCoy all had strong arguments through their methodologies on how to define "class." Ostrander and Pattillo-McCoy's arguments are legitimate, mostly because of their use of actual people in their interviews. I believe they both chose to use research and real examples in interviews because it's a first hand "response." It gives the reader a very clear picture on what the subjects actually feel about the topic.

Ostrander claims that "upper class and upper-class women, in particular, to be the most class-conscious segment of the American population" (21). Although she claims studies have proven this to be true, it's really not a clear picture of all the views of class through people in the United States. She interviewed ignorant women who even claimed they've never had to work for anything.

Pattillo-McCoy had a convincing argument about Black middle class, but I feel the argument was narrow because she only focuses on one specific group to define class. She talks about the inequality of the housing markets and describes how "African Americans have long attempted to translate socioeconomic success into residential mobility, making them similar to other ethnic groups" (141). I feel this can be applied to many, if not all, ethnic groups that are non-native to an area: they want to be associated with the community. This is not just specific to the black population.

I found Ouellette's approach to define class through pop. culture and media to be the most convincing. Although a lot of the focus is on "changing identity," it captures the reader's attention because it's specific to today's issues and beliefs on women's identity and association to class. Another reason I feel her argument is the most compelling because the media is very specific to what's relevant today. Ouellette says "identity [is] something that could always be reworked improved upon and even dramatically changed" (366). I agree with the fact that one's identity is always be changing, because the world is always changing.

Blog Assignment #4

In the readings for this week authors Pattillo-McCoy in "Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril among the Black Middle Class" and Ostrander's "The Meaning of Upper Class" base their papers on first hand experience with the subjects to which they are writing about.  In Oullette's "Inventing the Cosmo Girl: class identity and girl-style Amercian dreams" the author is deriving her observations on analysis of the text, i.e., Cosmopolitan magazine and direct quotes from the editor and "enlightened male intellectuals" (p. 370).  There is a variety of methods a researcher can use to support their thesis, however in a good research paper it is important that you have validity with your readers and that the research can stand up to criticism.  Some of the ways in which the authors collected their raw data was through interviews.  The problem with interviews, albeit interesting to hear the stories and first hand experiences of the people being interviewed is that the answers are somewhat filtered through the lens of the author to support their thesis whether intended or not.  Not all of the material collected during the interview process will be published of course.  There is a certain amount of interpretation and framing involved in the question and answer phase.  In some cases objectivity may be at risk in how the author perceives the intent of their subjects.  Authors have more credibility in my opinion if they've actually come from the sub-culture to which they are writing about.  In "Black Picket Fences" Pattillo-McCoy bases her article on direct experiences with the Groveland neighborhood and it's residents for at least, as she puts it, "By the end of my research tenure in Groveland, I had seen three groups of eighth-graders graduate to high school, high school kids go on to college, and college graduates start their careers." (p. 138)  Having a practical and more longitudinal study carries much more weight for me.  It is however interesting to read a compare and contrast piece like Ouellette's in "Inventing the Cosmo Girl" to get an historical perspective on how we developed, through the media, the cultural construct and discourse surrounding class and gender in this country.

I'm not defending or criticizing any one method.  I enjoyed all the articles in their own right.  I also believe that it is the responsibility of the reader to be diserning and question any assumptions made.

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All these three articles examine class identity, and each uses a different research methodology to do so.  There is no such thing as a perfect research design and so each article has it's flaws as well as strengths.  The Patillo-Mccoy article used alot of statistics which I find to be more useful in painting the picture of the advantages and disadvantages for the black middle class.  She also had first had accounts and interviews in her article.  The combination of these two research designs (statistics and first hand accounts) came off to me as the best way to study class identity.  You get a more uniformed and well rounded information on the subject.  I thought that Oustander's one on one interviews with upper class white women also did a good job of getting a more in depth and qualitative look at class from within it's subjects.  Although the point of this study was to get the advantages and disadvantages of being a upper class female from their own personal viewpoint, I thought that this methodology lacks any objectiveness which the Patillo-Mccoy gained through the use of statistics in her research. 
The Oulette article I feel had the poorest research design in that it was simply a critique of past literature.  She did a good job on gathering information and quotes from the 60's and 70's, and used specific evidence to back up her claim that brown's discourse legitimized sexism and capital expoiltation of women's labor, I feel that her lack of actualy interviews or any first hand accounts weaken her research as she is only getting her information through hers and previous reviews of literature.  I think that in order to understand a problem research is looking at, multiple designs of research should be used and I feel the Patillo-Mccoy did the best job of utulizing this.

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Each of the three articles we read for this week use different research techniques and styles to display the different ways people view identity. Susan Orstrander conducted a study where she interviewed a number of wealthy upper class women to get their perception on what it means to be upper class. Her technique provided the reader with a true feel for the attitudes of these women, " My family was never hard up. We have more fun because we don't have to spend time worrying about things, and spend time doing things like cleaning the stove."(Pg. 27). These direct quotes show the superiority these women feel simply because of their "family names".

            Laurie Outlette took a different approach in her Cosmo girl article, by supporting her arguments with quotes from previous publications like Guardian Weekly and Cosmopolitan. These quotes support Browns goal of attempting to change the economic and sexual roles of women, while still emphasizing the importance of forming your own identity as a "working girl".

            The final technique used was as study where Mary Pattillo-McCoy spent a significant amount of time living in Groveland, observing the residence and surrounding communities. She gathered statistics that supported her argument of the problems facing middle-class African Americans.

            Over all I thought the most useful technique was the interviewing technique. I liked seeing first hand how the "other half" views themselves and others around them, and reading direct quotes from the women she interviewed provided me with that insight. 

Week 4

I believe the Patill-McCoy article is the most successful engaging clearly with class identity and problems.  Oullette offers historical identifiers of class through media which is problematic because all people have a personal relationship with media. They may retain  preconceived notions or rationalize while viewing through a lens that they relate to.  Susan Ostrander allowed her subjects to speak for themselves about their identities within their class; this breeds a certain distrust in me, we cannot see ourselves objectively.  While I think studying statistics and charts provides the least convoluted study by Patill-McCoy, it brings up the question 'who has the privilege to speak for whom?'  I wonder if I accept this mode because I will allow people of a different class to be studied and reported back to me by someone of my own.  While not the most political, I think Ostrander allowing facts to be drawn from within a class rather than observing them is the most "representationally" sound mode of study.   

Blog #4

My understanding of the articles for this week was that the three author's main argument was to specify what people were actually dealing with in their everyday life. The methods such as the interviews and studies of the population made Ostrander's and Patillo-McCoy's argument strong which was to look at both the advantages and disadvantages of the women's everyday life. One of the women that Ostrander interviewed was Mrs. Ames and she said "Perhaps the most difficult thing I had to deal with was whether I could have made it if I hadn't had anything." Oullette based her argument on the magazines and the media which focuses more on what people want to see or what they assume or expect is going to happen.

These arguments from the readings had their own way of portraying the ideal life or ideal person that people wanted to live or become and the methods the authors used were all successful. Ostrander and Patillo-McCoy, and Oullette were all getting information that was either possible or impossible to achieve from the societies expectations, which is challenging both ways and you have to look at it from all perspectives.

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When reading Susan's Ostrander article, Women of the Upper Class, the upper- class women define their class position by their ancestry, heritage, and breeding- of "being from an old line family." (p.23) This article interviewed women who believed they were born into the upper class. The article was based on interviews and conversations with the author that provided insights into the concepts and experiences of everyday life for those in the upper- class. Using names like Mrs. Bennett, Mrs. Cooper, Do not seem to be a reliable or creditable because this study picked women at random who explained the advantages and disadvantages of the Upper class. I feel like this study was the least effective because they spoke with women from the same area all falling in the upper class category. Mary Pattillo- McCoy had a similar method as Ostrander of how they used a study as a way to help readers empathize with the issues of class status. It was hard to have a good observation because we can only observe from the outsider appearance on these issues.

            Media, Culture and Society by Laurie Ouellette used quotes and facts from magazines and books to analyze female identity.  By using specific examples from Cosmopolitan and the history of magazines gives more credibility to support Ouellette. On page 336 "Brown's credo required an understanding of identity as something that could always be reworked, improved upon and even dramatically changed."

All three approaches are different methods and ways to get you thinking about identity. Each article was unique in the ways they posed their arguments to persuade you that their opinion/ theory was correct. I found Laurie Oullettes article the most effective method of research.





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Each articles for this week reading gave different methodological approaches. However, Ostrander and  Pattillo-MacCoy's article was effective because they uses resources that comes from real people base upon their different views and perspective of dealing their own situations and how it's like to be in the situation. For Ostrander, she interviewed upper class women about their advantage and disadvantages. As for Pattilot-MacCoy, she wrote about the privilege and threat Black Middle class faces. Both author included the good and the bad of the different classes. If other viewers read the articles and didn't have an ideal idea of what it is like to really be in their position, then they don't know how to relate or understand their point of view.

As for Oullette's article, her resources came from a magazine, about Helen Gurley Brown and what she thinks every girl should do or have to change them as if she knew who they were. It doesn't indicate whether or not when girls do try her tips out, would it work or not work. Thus Brown only assumes that girls or women who read her "Sex and the Single Girl" articles would transform themselves into someone new.

Blog Assignment 4

Susan A. Ostrander wrote the article Women of the Upper Class. She wrote about the lives of upper class women, including their advantages as well as disadvantages. She gathered her information by conducting studies of the people they were researching. She used interviews to support her claims, which is convincing. The quotes she uses give us an inside look at what the upper class women really think. However, she does do a lot of interviewing, she does not ask anyone but the upper class women think about the upper class. I think it would have been more successful if she put in what middle class people think of the advantages and disadvantages of being in the upper class. Just having the upper class women answering questions doesn't mean they know what it's like to not be as privileged as they are.
    Laurie Ouellette wrote the article Inventing the Cosmo Girl: class identity and girl-style American Dreams. This article was done entirely with written sources, some from the Cosmo Girl magazine itself, and some of its critics. This method of research was successful in the way that it had many people's perspectives on the subject. She was able to gather more opinions than her own to make an argument against Helen Gurley Brown, writer of Cosmo Girl. Although she was successful in gathering more than one opinion on the subject, she only used perspectives in one direction. All of the other sources are attacking her magazine. This makes it hard to really agree with Ouellette because we don't know anything about the opposing side, we cannot compare and contrast the different opinions and decide whether we agree with her or not.
    The first two articles mentioned had problems with supplying information for the reader from many aspects. Mary Pattillo-McCoy's article, Black Picket Fences, differs from the first two because she gives more statistical information, as well as her personal research. She used her in field research to support her claim that the black middle class is not equal to the white middle class. I believe that Pattillo-McCoy was the most successful article we read this week. I liked that Ostrander used so many quotes, but she didn't seem to cite them well, and Ouellette uses many outside sources, but doesn't present both sides. Pattillo-McCoy uses both personal and textbook information, and cites them well.

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I prefer the methodological approach by both Ostrander and Patillo-McCoy because things become more concrete when you use the experiences of others. While Oullette's study was very informative and factual, it lacked the everyday perspective given by the other two articles. These two ways are also how anthropologists study, either by doing fieldwork or by doing studies based off other people's writings. As an anthropology major, I've always been more inclined to the fieldwork based studies than what is called "arm chair philosophizing". By actually getting involved in everyday experiences I feel you learn a lot more and it becomes more personal.  By hearing how Mrs. Haines felt about her privilege is a whole lot different than hearing how Ostrander or another outsider perceives it. Or for example, how Helen Gurley Brown  sees the Cosmo girl, she doesn't necessarily know what they're lives are like, but she presents her assumptions and then every Cosmo girl is a wide-eyed go-getter.

Week 4 blog

Ostrander's research approach was to speak to upper class women in a city and interview them about "the meaning of upper-class".  The women spoke of how being upper-class shaped their lives.  "When the spontaneously spoke of themselves or others as members of the upper class and in relation to the community, they rarely spoke of income, education, or their husbands' occupations" (page 22).  Laurie Ouellette's research article touches on how Cosmopolitan and the editor Helen Gurley Brown's "role in party subverting patriarchal sexual ideologies..."  Patillo-McCoy's "Black Picket Fences" provides a description of her study on a predominantly African American neighborhood (Groveland) and how it compares to other predominantly white neighborhoods in the Chicago area.  The research was conducted for three years.   Also the article speaks of the "middle-class African American". 

I find that all the articles are touching on different aspects of identity.  For example, women identity, upper-class women identity, and middle class African American's identity.  But Patillo-McCoy is the more successful research article because it has a more in depth approach in discovering the differences among the classes.  "The fact that a neighborhood's racial makeup is frequently a proxy for the things that really count-quality of schools, security, appreciation of property values, political clout, and availability of desirable amenities-attests to the ways in which larger processes of discrimination penalize blacks at the neighborhood level."   Patillo-McCoy also conducted her study over a three period.  Her results seem to be more conclusive on the ideology of class identity and how it affects certain groups.   The gaps in the arguments come from the different research methodologies.  Also they are each covering similar but mostly different topics.    

Week 4 Blog

Initially, I would gravitate toward believing that Ostrander and McCoy used a stronger methodological approach to their research, however, I think I experience this initial reaction mostly because I found their writing more enjoyable to read. The point of these articles should not be based on entertainment for the reader though, rather, it is about creating a solid research piece regarding the aspects of female identities. Because of this, I believe Oullette's exploration is most successful. Oullette provides factual information including quotes from multiple sources of media to support her argument. Ostrander on the other hand focuses completely on the biased ideas of the upper-class women through interviews and McCoy focuses the majority of her research on the observation of only one community. Oullette uses historical facts and survey to clearly support her research, showing the idea of shaping the female identity which leaves the least amount of room for gaps.

Week 4 Blog

I feel like all three articles have more or less the same angle, each has its advantages and disadvantages.  I like the Ostrander article because people are very good at defining themselves as they see themselves and how others seem them, but it basically ends there.  What about how other people see the upper class? Or what do middle class and lower class women think about their own class? I feel like there is a gap because only one side of the information is presented in this article.

I was very interested by Oullette's article as she simply gathered knowledge surrounding Brown's "legacy"...but this also contains a gap concerning exactly what other women retrieved from Brown's other words were the middle class women of that time period honestly changing everything about themselves, or was it simply a select audience doing so? Was there a select audience within middle class women viewing Brown's advice?? If there were women not following her advice, what did they think of her? Did they think it was as hurtful to women as Oullette believes?

I liked that Patillo-McCoy actually followed multiple groups of kids but where do middle class blacks fit with lower class whites? Are middle class blacks "better off" than lower class whites? Why didn't she compare how whites treat other classes of whites with how blacks treat their classes and also how they view each other?  And is she speaking on behalf of the entire middle class black population? Sometimes drawing inferences from one's own study can be useful, and other times it can be very detrimental (in my experience)...also can information from middle class black people provide a useful insight?

Week 4 Blog Post

In Qullette's article she has an advantage in the fact that she focuses on the media and popularized part of class identity.  There is a wide variety and range of sources and examples along with history to back up the idea that class identity "could always be reworked, improved, improved upon, and even dramatically changed" (366).  The major disadvantage in Qullette's approach is the fact that there are no personal first hand opinions, interviews or comments from women that are interactive in this issue. Without that personal aspect the whole analysis is strictly text based.

Ostrtander uses opinions directly from upper class women, the results are interesting along with being typical. They normality of the results comes as an disadvantage to Ostrtander . She states "Mrs. Hall , had recently recognized her own "class snobbery" and was determined to rid her of moral superiority that she had been taught since birth" (26). "if we want something we get it" (27). The comments they make are genuine and real but create a closer look at the mentality that these upper class women have, but there  too obvious as well. Of course they think there more superior than lower class people, and of course they know they have a perfect life with everything they want handed to them. So When Ostrander tries to use this as a way for these women to gives themselves an identity, they might as well consider their identity handed to them. If everything these women use to identify themselves with was handed to them and just because of their birthright, then there identity was just an added factor to the package.

Week 4

After reading this week's articles, I found that Ouellette's article is more successful and convincing. She has done the best analyses and research about the women identity. The article provides a broader view of how people see female identity as she has a wider range of evidence as she uses books, magazines and media. Although she is not doing a firsthand research, the research she has done is valid and more comprehensive in terms of the data she got and gathered. She used strong evidences to show how Cosmo has been an influential factor of shaping women identity. She said that ,"[I] wish to show how Brown's advice spoke to major changes in women's economic and sexual roles, while also suggested social identity for her "working girl" readers" (360). Her argument is convincingly strong and objective as she doesn't limit her evident to only one type.


To me, Ostrander and Patillo-McCoy's articles are more objective and limited. In Ostrander's article about upper class women, she provides numerous in-person evidences to show how the upper class women define "themselves". I feel that the first person interview is a good method of studying her object because she could get the most accurate and personal views. However, I would argue that Ostrander's methodology is not strong enough when comparing to Ouellette's. Ostrander's article is a little bit narrow and objective because she conducts interviews in one city and has already limited her target group. She even points out, "The Women's comments also begin to weave a picture of the upper-class way of life" (35). The answers and responses from the people are predictable. We can only see how upper class women see themselves but not the others. She missed a comprehensive view of women identity when she only focuses her interview on one group of people. Moreover, Patillo-McCoy's research is based on the black middle class. She interviews and observe the black middle class women in a limited area. Although she combines her data with statistical data; again, it still lacks a big picture of the subject that she is looking at.


I think there are gaps in the articles. The methodologies that the writers used vary because their goals and the types of article are different. Ostranders and Patillo-McCoy conduct first hand interview to get real life examples, targets. Ouellette use second hand data because she wants to have more precise views and analyses to shun subjectivity.

Week 4 Blog

I find that studying the population via interviews or in an ethnographic manner a la Ostrander and Patillo-McCoy is more effective than Oullette's primary support of media research.  That isn't to say of course, that media research, and therefore, secondhand research should be ignored. Rather, first-hand research such as observing or interviewing the studied population can provide a more in-depth and personal study on which to base one's argument.


The reasons that the authors varied on their research methods is quite simple.  The subjects studied by Ostrander and Patillo-McCoy were more established social groups, i.e. in case there was established social class and the other race, which is biologically established, respectively.  Thus, interviews and ethnographical observation was more appropriate.  Oullette's subject, "The Cosmo Girl" is based on a media creation, the persona created by Gurley-Brown and her media vehicle Cosmopolitan.  Considering the media source, it makes perfect sense that research was done primarily through various media.


I feel that that the biggest gap came from Oullette's article.  While the titles from past Cosmos were both interesting to ponder and wonder what the effects were on the American population.  But we were left in the dark as to how effective (or not) "Why I Wear My False Eyelashes to Bed" had on the American female population during the Cosmo Girl era.  It would have been nice to have some interviews from former Cosmo girls or something.  I also feel that some quotations from the citizens of Groveland would have enhanced the piece, "Black Picket Fences." This may be because I enjoyed the candor of the first article and because I feel that quotations better personify a study of an identified group. 

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            Ostrander focused on upper-class women, relying on first person interviews.  I feel she used this method because it would provide her with personal knowledge and understanding of these women's lives.  I found this methodological approach limited.       First, I think first person interviews are helpful, I think they can sometimes lack objectivity.  Secondly, while interviews are good for description, for me, they often fail to address an important question for me - which is why this study matters, or what is it really trying to accomplish.  What is Ostrander's point in this study, what is she seeking to change?  Although I know not all research has to have a big social justice style impact, I like the kinds that do much better.  Third, I guess to be blunt and perhaps crude (or ignorant) - I just can't relate to a study of upper-class women.  After reading Ostrander's piece I was left thinking 'why did I just read that... I could have just turned on MTV and watched something much more entertaining that carried the same basic points'.

            The biggest problem I had with her approach was that she only focuses on women in a certain geographical area.  This is limiting because, for example, the women discuss the differences between those who are old and new money.  This might not be the same in other geographical regions (especially with different histories and a higher population).

            Patillo-McCoy also used interviews, but spent many more years gathering her research.  I think Patillo-McCoy used a more in-depth and longer research process because it carries more weight than simple interviews.  I liked Patillo-McCoy's research more than Ostrander's because it seemed more concrete.  She spent more time and seemed to really take into account more facts than Ostrander did.  For example, she had statistical information about income, which is important for her subject of study.  While sometimes she did fail to fully explain or justify her arguments, I personally felt her research was more compelling and had a point.

            Ouellette's methods differed much more from Ostrander and Patillo-McCoy.  She analyzed magazines, books and other media.  She chose this method because she was focusing on a specific point: Brown and Cosmo magazine and how they shaped discourse.  This method seemed pretty appropriate to the aim of the research.  Ouellette presented facts and a sort of historical survey that presented clear support of what she was trying to research: the shaping of female identity. 

Week 4 Blog

All of the articles this week were on different subjects and some were researched differently.  The articles by Ostrander and Pattillo-McCoy used research from studies of different groups, while the Ouellette uses magazines and books as her references.  I think the most successful methodological approach is the study of different groups or populations because it gives examples of everyday life and their effects, instead of just facts.  For instance, the Ostrander article has interviews from conversations the author had with people that are part of the populations.  Pattillo-McCoy observed an entire community for three years, keeping track of the people who live there and gathered information on how people lived.  I think they used this method because it gives real life examples and makes few assumptions.  The article by Ouellette which only gives us the titles of articles, but doesn't give us results of what happened in the article, like when she mentions "Sex and the Single Girl" which says how women should be, but we don't know if anyone took the advice seriously.

Blog Assignment 4

Mary Pattillo McCoy's approach to her methodological studies was based on the black middle class. Although she did have some statistics, it was really just based on one neighborhood, the "Groveland Neighborhood", because of this, it lacked support in representing all middle class neighborhoods, and it was not convincing enough. If she had between 5 to 6 neighborhoods that came up with the same statistics, and it showed a frequent pattern, it would have made for a stronger argument. It would have also been a more successful argument had she provided more examples of the facts that she was talking about. For example when she talks about the "discrimination practices of banks, insurance companies" (14). The questions of what discrimination practices, when and where are unanswered because she failed to provide evidentiary support.            

Susan A. Ostrander writes about the upper class in America. Her research is clearly based on interviews and she gets a very personal perspective to the upper middle class life. This approach is very interesting, and it sheds a light on who these people are. But, with interviews alone, it fails to provide factual data. These are more based on opinions and thoughts, verses direct factual questions like "How much does your trips to Europe cost?" to "What is the average income of these old families?"

As for Laurie Oullette, I found her article to be the most convincing and successful. Oullette uses several sources from other media to help support her argument about Helen Gurdy Brown. She provides facts from Cosmo magazines to exact quotes and information that Brown stated in these magazines. Oullette correlates her arguments with the "hows" and "whys" Cosmo has directed its "changes in women roles" (360). From exploitation to sexism, Brown is targeted and criticized. I find Oullette's argument strong because there are clear facts from Cosmo and other sources as well that helps supports her argument.

These different ways of presenting their arguments could have been because of individual goals and perspectives that they were trying to achieve, in the end, I have found that Laurie Oullette has provided the best arguments because she brings in different angles and clear factual evidence to support it. 

Blog 4 Assignment

I found Ostrander's approach to be the most successful because she got her information straight from the mouths of the women whose lifestyle she was analyzing.  As she even said at the beginning of her article, the way these women "...defined and described their class were quite different from the way social scientists typically study class in American society," which means their input gave us, as a reader, insights into the way the upper-class live their everyday lives that we may not have known had it not been directly from the upper-class women she interviewed.  Yes, the information is fairly biased because it is individual accounts of people's personal lives in relation to their class, but I think that that aspect of her approach adds to Ostrander's research, not detracts from it.  It was a useful approach for what she was studying because it did give us an actual look into the lives of these women and the way that they think, which is not something that can necessarily be researched objectively since she wanted to know how these women viewed and felt about their status.  I also felt that her article was the most easily accessible in terms of readability based off of her article's flow and structure.


I found Pattillo-McCoy's approach successful as well, but I sensed a little more author bias in this article than I did in Ostrander's approach.  A bias coming from the people being interviewed, since it is in regards to their personal lives, seems more justifiable than the bias of the person doing the research.  For example I found the sentence, "...we need not wait for the whites to accept blacks in their neighborhoods, and think of integration as the panacea for current problems," to be a tad bit loaded.  Yes, it is an issue in some areas, but I think that there was a lot of stereotyping done in regards to putting all whites in one category and all blacks in a separate, unequal, category, when that is not always the case.


I think that the authors used different research methods based off of the material and people they were studying.  Ostrander and Pattillo-McCoy both used personal interviews of the people being studied, as well as some historical backgrounds to the people and neighborhoods (more heavily in Pattillo-McCoy's) and Oulette's argument being based off of books, magazines, and other media makes sense because her subject matter, Helen Gurley Brown and her magazine Cosmopolitan, are heavily engrained in the media. 


All in all, I do not think there is always a black and white "right" or "wrong" methodological approach to research; it is just dependent on the specific materiel that you are attempting to study.  Sometimes interviews, surveys, and historical data are more relevant than arguments based off books, magazines and other media sources and visa versa depending on the specific study.





Blog 4 Assignment

After reading the articles for Tuesday I found Susan Ostrander's article "Women of the Upper Class" to be the most successful.  I think the structure of Ostrander's article made it easier and a lot more interesting to read.  The interviews she conducted with the various women exceptionally showed how women in the upper class view themselves because she used direct quotes, which gave the reader a word for word account instead of a summary.  For example Ostrander states that people are born into the upper class.  She confirms this statement by using the quote "'being born like we are'" in her article.  This shows the reader that she did not just come up with this on her own but that an interviewee actually said it.  

I think there were gaps in the Laurie Oullette's article "Inventing the Cosmo Girl."  Since she did base her argument off of different medias, it was difficult for me to relate to the article because it was at a more scholarly level.  It was easier for me to associate with the Ostrander and Patillo-McCoy articles because they conducted studies of populations.  Ostrander and Patillo-McCoy articles consisted of quotes and studies of either upper class women or the black middle class, whereas Oullette summarized many things and used few quotes.  Therefore, this made it less "real" to the reader because she had filtered her answers rather then give direct ones as the others authors did.  

Blog 4 Entry

I think that Ostranders and Oullettes methodological approaches worked the best by far, even though they were different. Ostrander used the 'study' method as a way of showing us the lives of upper-class women by getting quotes like: "I was brought up in a home where I saw nothing but the best. It gives you a certain standard. You know what perfection is" (p27). These quotes enabled her to get the in-depth evidence that she was looking for in order to get the point across about how these upper-class women within society truly think and feel about their status. I don't think that she would have been able to do this by using the other, more analytical approach because it wouldn't have given her argument the strength it needed. On the other hand, I think that her study lacks some depth because she just focuses on the women of this upper-class division, where as I think that she should have expanded her studies to include the men of these same sectors in order to get the "other side" view of what life is really like in this social class.

Oullette is another author that I think does a very good job of putting forth her argument, even though she uses a different approach. She analyzes and critiques the work done in the media with a very critical eye that most people don't have and as a result, are passively influenced and fed messages that they are unaware of. She gives quotes from Cosmopolitan about how "some girls have it...some don't. But that elusive little quality separating the haves from the nots is within everyone's grasp" (p368), which highlights her main point about how influential media can be on a person's individuality through such oppressive tactics, mainly on women. Another strength to her study was that she used various sources within the media sector in order to reinforce her argument; she didn't just focus on one more than the other.

I think that Patillo-McCoy's article was the least successful out of all of them due to the fact that there were many instances where the ideas that were put forth appeared to be very bias and lacking statistical proof. Throughout the whole article, she uses 'white' instead of 'Anglo-Saxon', but does not refrain from using 'African American' instead of 'black' when putting forth a point in favor of her argument. She also lacks statistical proof in numbers when including statements such as "African Americans are more segregated from whites than any other racial or ethnic group" (p137). I made all of these observations while reading only the first few introductory pages of her article, which made me uneasy at the fact that she set her more factual-based information up with less than credible inferences.


Overall, I think that for any study to be soundly valid, or close to it, I think that you have to use a 'hybrid' of these two ideas; use facts, but also on observational data in order to make your own personal view clear, but trustworthy.    




Blog #4: identity and research methodology

Ostrander's case study of upper-class women, based primarily on interviews and somewhat on personal observation, provides an excellent example of what informs self-identity within this specific group. Although I am compelled to believe this case study is applicable to upper-class women in other geographic locations, no proof is offered that such extrapolations can be made. This is one weakness in Ostrander's article. Additionally, I find the lack of citations to other pieces of literature about what informs identity for upper-class women another weakness in Ostrander's piece. It does, however, appear to legitimize Collin's argument in Learning from the Outsider Within that women of one class often do not recognize their role in oppressing women of another class.


Ouellette's research provides a good example of how popular media can both inform and uphold discourse on identity. Ouellette's method is based entirely on archival research, which provides us with an excellent example of the fluid nature of identity. However, because Ouellette uses only Brown's publications, and those of her critics, to support her argument, there are limitations to her methods; most notably the single interpretation of Brown's writings.


I believe Pattillo-McCoy's research methods are most effective because she uses all the methods mentioned thus far (interviews, observation, and archival research). Pattillo-McCoy's use of a number of research methods provides layers to her argument not available in Ostrander's or Ouellette's pieces, and her argument demonstrates why it is important to look at the intersection of race and class, instead of examining them separately. Pattillo-McCoy effectively combines historical elements with current social statistics and observations.

Blog 4 Assignment

I believe Ostrander's and Patillo-McCoy's use of studying subject matter behavior by using interviews and conducting population studies enabled them to immerse themselves in the social context they were studying thereby engaging not only their subjects but also the reader. Their research approaches allowed them to write their articles in a way that engaged the reader and therefore affect their emotions. Both authors, Ostrander's use of personal interviews and accounts and Patillo-McCoy's use of in-depth historical accounts and the portrayal of "Groveland", used a research approach that helped readers to empathize with the issues faced by their subjects. These techniques were a powerful way of engaging the reader to become more aware of the issues the upper-class women deal with when striving to retain their status and thus defining their class status, "The women I interviewed spoke easily and articulately about the upper-class and how if frames their lives" (Ostrander, 21), and the continual equality struggle - economic and race - of the middle-class blacks, "To resolve the quandary it is essential to continuously refer back to the ways in which the black middle class is not equal to the white middle class..." (Patillo-McCoy, 137).

In contrast, Ouellette utilized a less personal approach to explain the cause-and-effect glamour magazines, such as Helen Gurley Brown's Cosmopolitan magazine, have on people's perception of their class identity and how one can affect their own class identity through continual improvement. Ouellette, through her article and research approach, was not as successful in conveying her message as the other two writers because her article focused more on Brown and the feminist confrontation the Cosmopolitan magazine created in the 1960's and 70's than on the influence magazines have on women and their ability to affect class identity than on personal conflicts. "What I am proposing is that the cultural discourse Brown articulated legitimated sexism and the capitalist exploitation of women's labor, while simultaneously expressing hardships and desires in a voice that spoke with credibility to an expanding class of pink-collar women" (Ouellette, 360).

Ouellette's article, I believe, failed to appeal to the reader and to show the cause-and-effect she had intended to identify in the article. The personal interaction used by Ostrander and Patillo-McCoy was far more successful than Ouellette's approach. However, Ostrander and Patillo-McCoy's research approach resulted in a more subjective argument leaving room for arguments regarding objective and factual cause-and-effect.

Blog Post #4

I found the use of population studies to be more useful than magazine and book studies. I think that to properly understand anything about a group of people, there needs to be firsthand account of some kind, which prizes multiple individual's experiences over massification. So often when using books, magazines and other such media things can be construed and twisted to be more sensational, or promote an agenda. After all, the media exists for consumption or to form a particular way of thought, and accordingly has to be presented in a way that will promote sales. As a result, I find most of printed media to be suspect. The use of documentable media is also hailed as a more "legitimate" type of research, partially I think because it plays on the idea that because something was published, or that it was made out to be the majority viewpoint, that it is true.


However, when there are no longer any means or way to do direct study (for example, unless you have a time machine, you can't go and talk to someone dead, or get a feel of a lost generation by being there) then media becomes one of the few ways to study a certain time or people no longer available. Additionally, when performing a study, I think it is important to take into all factors, including the mass media, to support or provide counterpoint to your research.


Oullette uses the media to support her argument partly because her agreement is based in media, and is appropriate and also because it captured the attitude of the early Cosmo era. It is interesting to note that Ostrander seemed to take into account books and papers on class, but disregarded them in favor of her own interviews. In Ostrander's case, it would have been more beneficial to have more interviews, because she shows a somewhat narrow view of how women of high class view themselves, so while that might have been fine for a specific area study, i.e. one city, it wasn't suited to a larger study like she seemed to be aiming for. Patillo-McCoy was perhaps the most successful of the three, but she could have utilized more statistics, interviews and like books/papers to support her research. Overall, I found all methods of research legitimate for what they were researching, although all could have been improved upon.

Blog 4

There were differences between Patillo-Mcoy's, Oullete, and Ostrander's research methods. Oullette used media, books, and magazines. I believe that the authors used different research methods because it pertained to their articles and the information they were trying to find. For example, Patillo-Mcoy could not have used media, books, or magazines because part of her argument was that the media only focuses on the black poor. She wanted to shed light to the black middle class which wasn't included in material found in a book or the media. Ostrander wanted to know specific questions, so an interview would fit her article the best. Oullete chose to use research based on a magazine because she needed precise information that was in the Cosmopoltian magazine to support her argument. She could not have interviewed people about what the magazine said, because it would be easier to look at the magazine itself instead of asking people about the articles. She would then risk the chance of people obscuring what the articles said to fit their view.

Out of the three methological approaches taken by Oullete, Patillo-Mccoy, and Ostrander; Oullete's was the most successful. She used research that depended on the media, books and magazines. Her findings were valid because she used specific evidence to support her argument. Patillo-Mccoy's argument was not the most successful, but it was legitimate because the information that she wanted to present could not be found in books, magazines, or the media. For example, 136 she said "much of the research and media attention on African Americans is on the black poor......rarely do we hear the stories of the other three-fourths..." Ostrander's argument was flawed, however. I think that because she only chose to interview a few women, she missed out on the big picture. Her research was conducted in one city and with one exclusive group of women. I don't think that the way they portray identities can account for every single woman in the upper-class.

Blog 4 Assignment

The methodological approaches used by Ostrander, Mc-Coy, and Oullette are all valid but in my opinion, the best method was used by Oullette because she presented different mediums to support her argument.  Ostrander and Mc-Coy's studies were successful, however, basing their arguments specifically on interviews is not the best method in conducting research. 

I believe all of the authors used the different research methods to try and gain the most knowledge about what they were presenting.  In the case of Ostrander, she focused on an elite group of upper class women and interviewing them with specific questions allowed her to gather the information she needed to write her passage.  However, I think Ostrander's argument as well as McCoy's could have been stronger with factual data.  For example, instead of just interviewing upper class women Ostrander could have given specific research on how much the "elites" were donating, spending, etc.  Neither of the authors used hard facts.

On the other hand, Oullette discussed the career of Helen Gurley Brown and used quotes and ideas from books and magazines to show what was happening in the media at that point in history.  Without quoting other sources, Oullette would have had a difficult time explaining the ridicule Brown was faced with.  On page 369, Inventing the Cosmo Girl, I quote, "Upscale magazines from Esquire to the New Yorker satirized Brown and her magazine, as did political journals from the left-leaning Ramparts to the conservative National Review."  Many other media soures were tearing Brown apart for her new image of a Cosmopolitan girl.  Quoting the other magazines made Oullette's argument stronger.

In conclusion, the best method of research is using numerous sources, gathering as much information as possible, and clearly supporting your argument.

Blog #4

Of the three approaches, Ostrander's approach I think is the least effective.It is very hard to take seriously the opinion of the women she interviews in her article because they have always lived the lives they are being interviewed about so therefore it can be deduced that their opinions are biased.  In most cases, when being asked about one's own life, the answers are not objective as they could be. I found the comments of the women interviewed in Ostrander's article to be shallow.  To me they did not seem in depth or or very insightful.  Maybe I'm biased since I don't come from a privledged family, but I felt no sympathy for the "problems" of the rich upper class. I guess that when compared with the problems of the poor such as being able to feed their families, the problem with having to participate in too many fundraisers seems trivial and shallow. Patill-McCoy's article used the same sort of method.  While I found her article to be slightly more identifiable and reliable, it is still lacking to a complete picture because her observations may not have been as insightful, as one can only observe so much from outside appearances. 

Oullette's article about the "Cosmo Girl" did the best job of analyzing an aspect of female identities.  Of course when you interview women who believe and follow the lifestyle of the Cosmo Girl, it's hard to get a clear picture of both sides. I also felt an author bias in Oullette's article that I didn't feel in Ostrander's and that made me question some of her information, but the facts and studies she presented ring a bit more reliable than personal opinion.  I realize that every situation is different and you shouldn't categorize women into one category, but she cited specific examples of Cosmopolitan articles that directly affected the formation of female identity, and the history of the magazine itself gives credibility to Oullette's analzsis. 

Week 4 Blog Assignment

Note: This week's readings were handed out in class, but copies are also available in the GWSS office, Ford 425, and on the course website. If you get the readings off of the website, please note that you only need to read pages 359-60 and 364-70 of the Oullette. If you got the handout in class and want to read the entire Oullette article, you can find it on the course website.

The three articles that we will discuss on Tuesday address class from three perspectives. Susan Ostrander tells us how upper-class women define their own upper-class identity. Laurie Oullette explores how Helen Gurley Brown's "Cosmo Girl" discourse suggests that class identity "could always be reworked, improved upon, and even dramatically changed" (366). And Mary Patill-McCoy argues that understanding class requires attention to more than just economic status.
Ostrander and Patillo-McCoy both conducted studies of the populations that they write about, whereas Oullette bases her argument on books, magazines, and other media. In your blog entry, I'd like you to explore the differences between these methodological approaches. Do you find one to be more successful than the other? Why? Why do you think the authors used these different research methods? Are there gaps in their arguments that result from their choice of method?  Be specific; use examples from the articles to support your answer. Feel free to draw on other readings from the class that offer other methodologies as well.

Length: approx. 150 words