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“Dealing with the System”

“Dealing with the System”

(p.138) Six “Dealing with the System”
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 (NWHS) to explore how youth position themselves vis-à-vis formal rules on campus, focusing especially on the inequities experienced by black and newly arrived Mexican immigrants. Much of the chapter examines how young people in a high-poverty school imagine, reason, and deal with institutionalized authority under conditions of trust and safety, including their consciousness and mobilization in and around adult power, rules, and legality. We also offer insights into how authority-in-action differences youth, bracketing and controlling particular behaviors and identities and locating perspectives of school-produced inequality from youth positioned below. Which NWHS students were marked by school rules and under what conditions? Who, if any youth, challenged adult authority and by what means? Who used adult authority to deal with interpersonal conflicts, why, and with what consequences? The chapter closes with an exploration of changes in the interplay between youth and school structures during the third year of our fieldwork in 1999–2000 as the school began to implement safe schools policies.

Keywords:   compliance, discipline, playing by the rules, playing the rules, played by the rules, resistance

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