High School Prom Rituals By: Akiera Gilbert
What is Prom? As defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary Prom: A formal dance given by a high school or college class
Ethnographic Interview-Cultural Scene • I decided to study high school prom rituals from my interviewees’ perspectives, and questioned them as to their opinions on not only multiple aspects of American prom culture, but what she thought high school prom culture was in other parts of the world. • I chose to study high school prom rituals since prom season was upcoming, when the project was first introduced. I believed that I would be able to get a plethora of information, since American high school proms usually take place in the months from March to June(depending on the region of the country that one is in.)
Reason(s) Behind My Choice in Interviewee(#1) • I chose to interview a girl, specifically because when I first went into the research of prom rituals and prom culture, I noticed that –specifically in American prom culture- more emphasis was placed on pre-prom rituals being performed by the girl, and from media, I derived the notion that prom-as a generalization- was/is more significant for females than it is for their male counterparts. • I chose an interviewee that was familiar with American prom culture, because my sub-topic was American High School Prom Rituals and how Americans believed they related/differed from prom rituals in other parts of the world.
Reason(s) Behind My Choice in Interviewee (#2) • I decided to get a male’s perspective, and see if his perception of prom/pre-prom rituals differed from the first interviewee’s. • This interviewee was not American, and had more experience with prom culture outside of America.
Questions Asked to Both Interviewee’s 1. Tell me about your ideal prom experience 2. What, in your opinion, is the most important aesthetic aspect of prom? 3. What are some components, in your opinion, of the prom culture that exists in America? 4. Can you tell me the importance that prom has played in your life, throughout high school, to now? 5. Was there any increase or decrease of the significance of prom in your life as the event grew nearer? 6. Do you think that prom culture, in other parts of the world, differs from American prom culture? 7. Do you believe that there is any difference or discrepancy in how important prom is within different social classes in America? 8. Do you believe that there is a difference in the emphasis placed on pre-prom rituals, for different genders? 9. What type of stress/emphasis,in your opinion, is placed on having a “date” to prom? *Questions that are emboldened are discussed later on in the presentation. Questions in italics are questions that one, or both interviewee’s answered in one of their responses to the selected questions that will be presented.
Interviewee #1 • Background Information Gender: Female Age: 17 Occupation: Student Economic Status: Middle-Class Appearance: Small, fair skinned female, with long, dark brown hair, and gold eyes.
Components of Prom Culture in America(Interviewee #1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIokGDRvamQ
Significance of Prom(Personal Experience) While interviewing the first interviewee, I asked her what significance prom has played in her life currently, and up until that point in time. She responded with: “I think, to be honest, there has been more of a decrease[in significance of prom throughout my life] . A lot of what prom is is what’s leading up to it, like getting a dress, making a hair appointment, nail appointment. None of it’s, for the most part, during the event. I’m assuming once the event comes I’ll be more excited but right now, not so much ( a small chuckle)”
Analysis of Interviewee #1’s Commentary • Interviewee 1’s answer to the question mentioned on the prior slide reinforced my notion that in America, media and other influences(such as tradition), have contributed to the increasing emphasis on prom being a joyous event, and with that comes immense preparation, where most prom(or technically, pre-prom) rituals come into play.
VISA Study Commentary(Interviewee #1) Interview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xZ1t_mZlTA Article http://www.marketwatch.com/story/prom-spending-climbs-for-a-second-straight-year-nationwide-average-1139-2013-04-24
Interviewee #1 presented prom as a special occasion, in the minds of some people, which justifies spending that ranges from a little more than the average person would, to grandiose spending.
Interviewee #2 • Background Information Gender: Male Age:17 Occupation: Student Economic Status: Upper Lower-Class Appearance: Tan skinned male, tall in stature, with short dark hair, and brown eyes. *Interviewee #2 requested that neither his visual image, nor his voice be recorded. I, the interviewer, took notes instead.
Discrepancies in Social Class and Financial Obligations of Prom Interviewer: Do you believe that there is any difference of discrepancy in how important prom is within different social classes in America? Interviewee #2: “I’m not entirely sure, mostly because I don’t think I have much contact with anyone that’s not in middle class. Um, maybe those in the upper-class might spend more money,or in the lower class may spend more money. It really depends entirely on if they want to splurge for that particular day, mostly because of-I guess- social discrepancies: maybe those who typically don’t have the money to splurge on that much for a particular day decide to, for prom, in order to make themselves feel better. Or those in the upper-class decide to show off what they have.”
Interviewee #2: “I would assume so because a lot of what prom is, is dictated by the nation’s culture and different countries have different cultures. Even in other English speaking countries, the cultures are different. I know a lot of my cousin’s who live in Columbia- they do have prom but it’ s a bigger deal, mostly because a lot of the schools there are segregated by gender, so they go through a lot more trouble to get a date. In the area there are two different high schools, one for boys and one for girls, and it’s more of a get-together between two different genders, which usually doesn’t happen.” Interviewer: Do you think that prom culture, in other parts of the world, differs from American prom culture?
“Pre-Prom Rituals” Advice/ Guidelines for the 21st Century Prom-Goer http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2011-04-03/specialsection/fl-prom-top-10-040311-20110403_1_prom-facial-hair-waxing