This chapter introduces the local lexicon that youth (and adults) used to describe the issues that spark trouble at New West High School. For many youth, the language of dignity and respect tied more to gender dynamics than ethnic and racial identities or neighborhood loyalties. Drawing on youth-authored and ethnographic “trouble cases,” the chapter presents an inventory and aggregate analysis of the repertoire of actions that constitute the stakes, processes, and potential outcomes of peer control: how young people navigate conflict, in their own words, to “work out” trouble without escalation; how youth “put” peers “in their place” in ways that sometimes spill into violence; and how youth deal with and mobilize “the system” of official authority. Taken together, youth tend to work out peer trouble and conflict rather than put peers in their place or turn to the system. This chapter also introduces “trouble strings” as way to chart how youth navigate or make their ways through interactional disruptions that occur in and around every day public school life.
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