As exclusive upper-class balls that represented a fraction of elites during the Gilded Age, the Patriarch and Assembly Balls were sites where the Four Hundred engaged in practices of distinction for the purposes of maintaining their social statuses and of wresting social power from other fractions of elites. By looking at things such as the food, décor, and dancing at these balls, historians could arrive at an understanding of how the Four Hundred wanted to be perceived by others as well as the various types of capital these elites exhibited to assert their claim as the leaders of upper-class New York. In addition, in the process of advancing their claims as the rightful leaders of Society, the New York Four Hundred transformed elite identity as well as upper-class masculinity to include competitiveness and even fitness and vigorousness, traits that once applied more exclusively to white middle-class masculinity.
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Thesis advisor: Chenier, Elise
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