Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Brian Hoey

Second Advisor

Markus Hadler

Third Advisor

Richard Garnett


Research introduced here demonstrates the use of protagonist framing as a means of identifying the boundaries that define a community’s identity in relation to an antagonist. Specifically, this research examines the two-sided nature of boundaries and the impact such boundaries have on the identity of a community. Through the telling narrative of two distinctively contrasting members of the ginseng steward community, this research explores how boundaries and protagonist framing can be used to identify the schemata of interpretation that enables the ginseng steward community to locate, perceive, and label themselves in relation to American society and a capitalist mentality. The author interprets the boundaries used by the ginseng steward community as a means of understanding for American society and as being reflective of the steward’s identity through their adherence to these boundaries as being central components of their identity. The research finds that the boundaries maintained by ginseng stewards influence and even dictate their notions of stewardship, sustainability, morality, and American society. Drawing on ten months of ethnographic research involving interviews and observations of the everyday activity conducted by members of the ginseng steward community, this research contributes to our understanding of how boundary identification can be used to classify and discuss a community’s identity and their perception of non-community members.



Ethnic barriers.