Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations

I Knit Therefore I Am: An Ethnomethodological Study of Knitting as Constitutive of Gendered Identity

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

John Warren (Advisor)


This study examines the ways in which gender is constituted through everyday performances, with a specific focus on knitting. Because knitting has a feminine connotation in the United States, female and male knitters have much different experiences when engaging in this activity and as such, knitting influences the ways that they negotiate their performance of gender in varying ways. Through the theoretical lenses of ethnomethodology and critical gender and communication research, I use autoethnography to investigate my own experience with knitting as a gendering activity; I also use in-depth interviewing to gain insight from five male knitters about how they understand knitting in ways that reify and resist cultural norms. The study suggests that gender performance is a constant negotiation to establish believability or proficiency as masculine/feminine, rather than a static performance that either meets or does not meet the cultural norm of masculine/feminine. The study also offers insight into the often overlooked ways that we transgress gendered norms in our everyday lives.