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Rethinking Youth Conflict

Rethinking Youth Conflict

(p.1) One Rethinking Youth Conflict
Navigating Conflict
Calvin MorrillMichael Musheno
University of Chicago Press

This chapter provides a first look at urban youth navigating their conflicts with one another while contributing to the civility of New West High, a high poverty school in the American Southwest. Youth bring these responses to light in their voices and actions, revealing a prevalent orientation to peaceful improvisation built on their agency, the collective engagement of their teachers and a history of social trust in the school. These revelations contrast with the popular imagination of students of color as predatory threats to the social order of urban schools, a viewpoint that draws selectively from criminological and social science research. An alternative theoretical framing shifts from a concentration on youths’ resorting to aggression and violence to how youth imagine and act on trouble. Three decades of different modes of inquiry and inference ground this trouble perspective, enabling a panoramic view of the processes of trust at work in the school, its interruption when the school’s administration imposed carceral-like school discipline on campus and the return to peaceful improvisation and re-emergence of a school that works. The chapter ends with a preview of how this story unfolds in the book.

Keywords:   criminology, modes of inquiry, peaceful improvisation, social trust, trouble perspective, youth voices

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