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Uniformella förhandlingar: Hierarkier och genusrelationer i Postens kläder 1636-2008
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, Comparative Religion and Gender Studies.
Responsible organisation
2008 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Uniform negotiations : Hierarchies and gender relations in Post Office clothes 1636-2008 (English)
Abstract [en]

The postal uniform represents a state authority while simultaneously clothing the body of an individual. Via discussions about breakpoints, events, and negotiations, the study highlights cultural and social patterns in civilian uniform practice. A basic theme is how society classifies and hierarchizes people, above all, masculinity, via uniform. The negotiations stand out in different ways, and they take place between actors with different interpersonal or hierarchical relations.

The study covers a period of almost four hundred years. The point of departure is the present day and the emphasis is on the last two centuries. The research material consists of the Post Museum’s historical collections with texts, images, and artefacts treated as equal sources. The arrangement is based on the sharp boundary between superior and subordinate and on two chronological and empirical breakpoints: 1866 and the 1960s/70s. The official emblems and rank insignia of the uniform have functioned as steering mechanisms intended to categorize, classify, and differentiate people.

The analysis shows that the uniform served one function for superior staff and a completely different one for subordinates. Female functionaries were both subordinated and marginalized through exclusion from the uniform practice, until the 1940s. The shaping of different bodies and masculinities agrees with the aim of the postal bureaucracy. The uniform was intended to cultivate an elevated and useful middle-class masculinity whose professional role included enforcing, regulating and controlling other people. In the other case the uniform was supposed to constitute a useful and compliant postal functionary who loyally did his job with the status of the uniform as a reward. Modern bureaucracy and disciplinary power shaped docile bodies which aspired upwards in the hierarchical system, whether they were superiors or subordinates.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Nordiska museets förlag , 2008. , 295 p.
Keyword [en]
civilian uniform, steering mechanisms, hierarchy, classification, gender, identity, masculinity, negotiations, disciplinary power, cultural history, clothes, Post Office
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-8268ISBN: 978-91-7108-527-6OAI: diva2:199940
Public defence
2008-11-14, hörsal 9, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 13:00
Available from: 2008-10-23 Created: 2008-10-21Bibliographically approved

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