Qualitative and Fieldwork Methods Workshop
May 9, 2019 - 9:00am to 10:20am
Presenter: Chloe Hart - PhD Candidate, Stanford Department of Sociology
Discussant: Emily Carian - PhD Candidate, Stanford Department of Sociology
Organizations in crisis: How fraternities respond to backlash
As recent news reports have cast a spotlight on racist, misogynistic, and violent behavior of fraternity men, fraternities have begun to grapple with stigma that has increasingly tarred their organizations. This paper examines the strategies that men in fraternities draw on to address the backlash that their organizations face. We identify four primary strategies. Some fraternities employ means-ends decoupling, in which their efforts to redefine their organizations are motivated by improving public opinion; others employ middling practices, in which they discard some problemetized aspects of their organizations while retaining others. Two fraternities organized outside of the historically-white interfraternity council have relatively low visibility on campus, and in the absence of public recognition, report minimal pressure to improve their brand. Finally, some fraternities seek to enact transformative change, but find their efforts stymied by the larger institutions in which they are embedded.