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“Puttin’ ’Em in Their Place”

“Puttin’ ’Em in Their Place”

(p.117) Five “Puttin’ ’Em in Their Place”
Navigating Conflict
Calvin MorrillMichael Musheno
University of Chicago Press

This chapter draws on a close examination of ethnographic and youth-authored trouble cases at New West High School to reveal how youth respond to peer trouble via moralistic responses that attempt to build interpersonal hierarchy and reputations while disrupting the horizontal flow of more common conciliatory-remedial actions. One strategy used to put peers in their place is what students called the “beat down,” accomplished through hostile accusations, threats and denials, physical violence, and the mobilization of third parties who might carry the fight to troublesome parties. Beyond the beat down, youth talked about “goin’ undercover” to handle moralistic trouble issues by engaging a range of covert actions, including gossiping, sabotage, or exiting from ties with persistently troublesome parties. These actions reveal complex intersections of trust and gendered power relations, including the multiple usages of interpersonal back-stages on campus.

Keywords:   beat down, exit, gossip, moralistic, sabotage, threats, violence

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