Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Thomas L. Bell

Committee Members

Robin L. Hardin, Ronald Kalafsky, John B. Rehder


This dissertation examines the links between culture and tradition. It argues that traditions are influenced by the underlying cultural foundations from which they develop. It also argues that as traits diffuse between cultures, they do not do so “as is” but are interpreted by the recipient culture group and altered by their cultural beliefs. Because of the alterations that occur, the diffusion event is not a one-directional incident. The alteration of the trait causes the original exporter to evaluate the changes made, thereby altering the source culture’s opinion of the recipient group.

The dissertation uses a three-stage model to examine the above arguments by using the diffusion of the National Hockey League (NHL) into the South during the 1990s as a data source. The first stage of the model investigates the place of hockey in southern sport culture prior to the NHL’s arrival, the Precondition. The second stage examines how hockey culture developed between the arrival of each southern franchise and the Lockout lost season of 2004-05. The final stage compares the cultural underpinnings of southern hockey to general southern sport culture and hockey’s hearth culture.

This dissertation found that southern hockey’s cultural foundations lie in general southern culture and not with hockey’s hearth culture. This finding supports the notion that diffusion events do not occur as direct exchanges of cultural traits but rather diffused traits are altered to fit into existing cultural frameworks. This finding led to an alteration in the original model, with the concept of a “cultural filter” being added.

Key Words: Tradition, culture, South, hockey

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."