By Shauna Pomerantz (auth.)

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Extra info for Girls, Style, and School Identities: Dressing the Part

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While style is the focus of this book, I also explore other modes of reductionism that have culminated in a backlash against girls in the early twenty-fi rst century. I suggest that a social science dedicated to uncertainty and the messiness of everyday life offers the possibility of seeing beyond single certainties, moving us closer to a generative understanding of girls and girlhood. 1 In asking this question, I am hoping to move away from the customary question, what does girls’ style mean? As I noted in chapter 1, it is impossible to fi x style within denotative values, determining, once and for all, what items of clothing indicate in a stable, pregiven form.

They dressed for parts in which they were cast based on the subject positions they occupied. But within these seemingly fixed social roles, girls continued to negotiate the parts they wanted and yearned to play through style. Sometimes they were successful, making transitions effortlessly from one school identity to another; sometimes they were seen as “posers” and forced to return to an earlier incarnation of themselves; sometimes they occupied several contradictory identities at once; sometimes they forged hybrid identities, refusing to occupy just one at a time; and sometimes they fantasized about possibilities that they knew existed, but were afraid to make happen.

Pierre and Pillow 2000, 1). ” These silences, fumbles, and false starts all culminated in the generation of this ethnographic text. I struggled to balance my desire to change people’s minds about girls with an understanding that I was not on some “university rescue mission in search of the voiceless” (69). I was, however, engaged in a complexly knit social world in which I, as the ethnographer, was both powerful and powerless. Girls enacted power by refusing to talk to me, by challenging my questions and sampling, by rejecting my 28 GIRLS, STYLE, AND SCHOOL IDENTITIES presence as a white, middle-class, university-educated researcher, and by seeking constant clarification on what I was doing in their school.

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