Getting to the Greek —
An Ethnography of Greek Life in the South
Greek life in the U.S. South expresses all of the traits of a dominant social sphere while producing individuals with a socially dominant orientation. So, for my first ever ethnography, I sought to understand the institutional culture that created ideological carbon copies of young impressionable students all around me.
As a transfer student from Los Angeles, the southern-ness of Greek life in the Southeast was striking. I must admit, I went into this project with a not-so-objective perception of the people I would be studying. I was confident that Greek life was socially conservative, ethnically cleansed, and openly misogynistic.
This ethnography did not change any of those beliefs, however, I did stumble upon a phenomenon which ended up driving my thesis into a novel and unanticipated direction - I found an erotic marketplace as a result of the mating strategies woven into the fabric of Greek letter societies.
As I embedded myself into their culture through socialization (i.e., parties, formals, drinking, pre-gaming, more parties, and more drinking), I noticed that Greek women would only 'dress-up' for Greek men. During classes, these women would wear comfortable Nike shorts and T-Shirts signaling their Greek affiliation. But at night, during formals, these women would go all out (it was almost troubling).
Ultimately, I posit that Greek women effectively remove themselves from the traditional college mating scene through their dress while inviting the advances of Greek men. This is beneficial to their mating strategy because of the social capital inherently present when going Greek. I also say a lot more in the full paper, so take a look.
This work was presented at Georgia Sociological Association in 2015 with an updated version presented at Ethnographic and Qualitative Research Conference in Vegas, January 2017.