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Exploring personal identities through constructions of footwear

By Vivien Burr and Nigel King


I’m going to present findings from a study using grids gathered in workshop at International PCP Congress, Venice 2009 and at a further workshop in UK, which built on an earlier pilot study. We presented the findings from this pilot study at the International PCP Congress in Venice, 2009. It was based on the idea that the construction and expression of personal identity is becoming more dependent upon material goods and possessions and we are accustomed to the idea that the things we wear express the kind of person we are, or would like to be seen as, and the notion that many women are fascinated by shoes has entered popular consciousness. The idea of exploring women’s identities through footwear emerged and we felt that shoes could be a route into identity that women would find meaningful, interesting and enjoyable. We were surrounded by women offering to be our participants! The pilot study involved four women between the ages of approx 30 and 45, two of whom were passionate about shoes and two for whom shoes were more of a practical necessity. We used pictures of various shoes as elements in a role construct repertory test, using triads and dyads to elicit constructs and interviewing the women further about the constructs that emerged. We found that, regardless of the women’s level of interest in shoes, the method was very successful in quickly leading to important identity dimensions of meaning for the women. So what I’m reporting today is a follow-up study. We wanted to get an idea of whether the kinds of issues that had been raised in our pilot sample were shared by other women, and to try out the grid as a way of getting further information about the relationships between constructs that we might potentially analyse

Topics: H1, BF
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.hud.ac.uk:7959

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