Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Deegan, Mary Jo and Michael R. Hill. 1991. “Doctoral Dissertations as Liminal Journeys of the Self: Betwixt and Between in Graduate Sociology Programs.” Teaching Sociology 19 (3): 322-332.


Copyright 1991 Mary Jo Deegan and Michael R. Hill


The sociology dissertation process is a liminal journey, a passage characterized by ambiguity, uncertainty, and crisis in which the student self is abandoned and a new professional self claims a world of power. authority, maturity, and responsibility. The theoretical perspectives of Victor Turner, Arnold Van Gennep, and George H. Mead are extended to conceptualize the “liminal self who undertakes this difficult and problematic journey of transformation. Experiential methodology, in which theory and autobiography are combined, is employed to explicate the dissertation as a conflictful rite de passage and to critique doctoral projects that unrefexively adopt “technical formulas” for success and thus deny the possibility of liminal transformation.