Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Shaunna L. Scott


Mobile homes and mobile home parks—still most often called trailer parks in common vernacular—occupy a particularly stigmatized position in American culture. A symbolic stand-in for a host of social ills, from bad hygiene and broken families to drug use and loose morals, mobile homes offer affordable housing at a social cost, branding their residents as likewise deficient. This piece of material culture did not come into being with such negative meanings attached. The process of becoming a symbol of stigma is an historical one, a story of meaning making in the midst of cultural shifts and changing norms. Since appearing on the scene in the early 20th century, the American house trailer has transitioned from trendy fad to housing pariah, and the power of its symbolism continues to label residents as pariahs by association. Through status connotations and class reproduction, the stigma that comes with being labeled “trailer trash” continues to have harmful consequences for the lived experiences of mobile home park residents today.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)