Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Elizabeth A. Suter, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Mary Claire Morr Serewicz

Third Advisor

Erin K. Willer

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer A. Reich


Family, Gender, Grandfathers, Identity, Life-span communication, Masculinity


The purpose of this study is to investigate the construction of a masculine identity through a qualitative analysis of personal letters written by an aging man over the last two decades of his life (age 68-89). Symbolic interaction and life-span communication are the guiding frameworks behind the development of the research questions and the subsequent analyses. Research question one asks: What themes emerge from the personal letters written by an aging man? The following two themes emerged: a) relationality, and b) age and aging. Research question two asks: What do the metaphors that emerge from personal letters reveal about the construction of an aging male identity? A metaphoric analysis produced two conceptual metaphors: a) aging is a tolerable inconvenience, and b) aging is a blessing of time. Overall, the findings from this study suggest the construction of an aging male identity that is highly relational and indelibly shaped by age and aging. The findings contribute to family communication by providing insight into the lived experience of an older man who values the relationships in his life as well as the aging process.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

K. Tiffani Baldwin


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

192 p.