Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Graham, Laurel Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cecil Greek, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kim Golombisky, Ph.D.


cultural capital, conventions, performance, race, gender, popular culture


In investigating the ways social actors experience and interact with mass media texts, I examine how cosplay, as a performative practice of identity in relation to popular culture, enables social actors to subvert and reproduce marginalization towards minority status groups. Theoretical arguments apply a constructionist framework in order to examine the participants’ meaning making processes. The study addresses the following research questions: (1) what social function does cosplay serve for participants; (2) how do cosplayers perform race and gender; (3) how do cosplayers resist, negotiate, or reinforce race and gender-based marginalization? Drawing upon qualitative data gathered from observing two large metropolitan comic book conventions and from conducting nine in-depth interviews, the author forms two arguments. First, cosplayers are capable of both subverting and reinforcing marginalization. Second, the processes of identity-making, social capital, and social cohesion that promote cultural capital in cosplay are stratified along race and gender.

Included in

Sociology Commons