Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Polly McLean

Second Advisor

Marlia Banning

Third Advisor

Lee Chambers

Fourth Advisor

Kelty Logan

Fifth Advisor

Kathleen Ryan

Abstract

This dissertation investigates how the neoliberal turn of the 1980s created a gendered, male space around beer as a function of power and social control designed to subjugate both women and working-class males to the new white-collar hegemonic masculinity in the wake of the second wave of feminism. Research by the beer industry indicates an abandonment of their market by female consumers, and this study contends that hostile gender portrayals in television series and advertisements steered Generation X and millennial women away from the macroindustry beer market. A recent shift in both the media and beer industry from corporate control to grassroots enterprises allowed women to reengage with beer and the social ritual of its consumption through women-only craft beer enthusiast groups that reject the regressive, sexist advertising messages in the mainstream broadcast media.

This project uses feminist critical theory to investigate how beer became gendered in the neoliberal media of the past 30 years and the impact of that gendering on the social ritual of beer drinking for millennials and Generation X. This research uses historical and textural analysis to explore the gendering of beer in the mainstream media. An ethnography of women-only beer clubs and in-depth interviews with club members discerns the characteristics of women beer drinkers and determines the role social media plays in the relationship between the craft beer movement and women beer drinkers.

Results of this analysis suggest that the media portrayals surrounding beer and its consumption as a male, and largely blue collar, space and ritual that aired on television during Generation X’s and millennials’ formative years contributed to women’s negative impressions of the products brewed by the corporate beer industry and inspired them to consume other alcoholic products, namely craft beer. In addition, the craft beer industry, heavily-run by Gen Xers and millennials, conducts their business and engages social media in an inclusive and collaborative manner as an oppositional response to the macrobrewing industry’s gendering of beer in the media. This dissertation examines women’s involvement with women-only craft beer enthusiast clubs for intellectual and social engagement with both beer and other women and their need for safe spaces that do not include men in response to the hostile gendering of beer in the media and social ritual over the last three decades. The findings herein point to social media as the link between women and their engagement with craft beer, and show that it helped to create a female beer fandom that functions as a participatory culture online and off. Finally, this work asserts that the craft beer industry, and its inclusion of all genders, is both a millennial and feminist movement in response to years of negative, gendering neoliberal media messages employed by the corporate macrobrewing industry.

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