Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Robert Wait

Second Advisor

Stanley Robin

Third Advisor

Subhash Sonnad

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


This thesis draws on structuralist and symbolic interactionist versions of role theory to identify and explain the constraining and creative aspects of the role of clergy wife. Analysis was based on in-depth interviews with twenty women who are married to Protestant ministers. Constraining expectations were identified, many at high levels of abstraction. In order to ground abstract expectations in particular situations, a process of negotiated role-making is required. Steps in the role-making process are described and three orientations (embracement, alienation, and transcendence) that women take are described as adaptations to the demands of role-making. While role-making allows individual freedom in the performance of a role, changes introduced may become institutionalized and serve to constrain future role performance.

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