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“Workin’ It Out”

“Workin’ It Out”

(p.90) Four “Workin’ It Out”
Navigating Conflict
Calvin MorrillMichael Musheno
University of Chicago Press

This chapter offers a close examination of ethnographic and youth-authored trouble cases to explore how youth handle peer trouble at New West High School. Although layers of adult authority officially structure school life and occasionally lead to direct interventions into youth conflict, youth handle primarily handle peer trouble via conciliatory-remedial actions without escalation or violence. What youth call, “workin’ it out,” out hinges on the capacity of young people to act in ways that at first glance do not appear to be conflict management at all. On set of practices is “chillin’” – ranging from interpersonal accommodations to deflection to temporary avoidance – that blends into the ebb and flow of youth movement across different peer groups and campus geography. “Educating” – a bottom-up youth practice of exercising voice to peers – constitutes a second set of practices. Youth who hang out with one another are more likely to move trouble to the backstages of the campus to chill or educate peers; youth who rarely or only occasionally hung out are more likely to posture initially with moralistic acts on the frontstages of school grounds. All of these interactions involve delicate balancing acts of emotion and face saving.

Keywords:   chillin', conciliatory-remedial, educating, emotions, face saving, voice

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