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Unformatted text preview: _ ('t\lAV"JC\---<f Fli...dtl\ 5. (11 ~kst :J'\~~ ~I(~r \t-. ., \0 '"'\r ... Ir&..ch~,) (q \\ (!,~ \~v' c-s::> (- N C- T \:: . '~m--~"" . CHAPTER 3 Literacy and the Social Queens ~ \}-) The social fabric of the social queens was woven together with literate threads. The group used literacy to lace its members tightly together and exclude those beyond their circle of significance. The nature of this group's social interactions created rigid standards used to measure and moderate appropriate behaviors both within and outside of the school context. Their rules and rituals were most often mediated through writ- ten texts and were used to govern specific roles available within the school context. The unifying thread of their relationships was an unfal- tering allegiance to a group identity.. At home and at school. social-group identity was privileged. Con- cealing individual differences, the queens created social roles through a group lens. Debra Zmoleck, a seventh-grade language arts teacher, explained: "Most seventh-grade girls, even if they are A students, are not independent. . . I mean it's like, 'Yes, I want my A, but I'm going to try to figure out how to get that around being social, around doing all the fun things.' " THE LlFEWORLD OF THE SOCIAL QUEENS . "Doing all the fun things" and "being social" characterized the ways in which the queens constructed their roles at home and at school. Ways of being social were for the most part enacted as ways of appearing and being the sameJhe girls quickly hid distinguishing marks. Because group identity was privileged over indlVlQua.lldt:lllily, allegiance to peer group remained central. The queens seemed to perform as members of what GoHman (1959) called "performance teams," defined as "any set of individuals who co-operate in staging a single routine" (p. 79). Physi- cal appearance, dress, social behavior, academic achievement, and read- ing and writing preferences were carefully monitored by the girls to present a unified front. Not only did these girls arrange their hair and 48 OJ. LITERACY AND THE SOCIAL QUEENS 49 dress similarly, but on weekends they exchanged grocery bags full of clothing so that the next week each girl could come to school dressed in the same outfits as those of her tight circle of friends. The queens' primary reason for being at school could be located in the social realm. For these adolescents, school was most often perceived as a social arena, a time to connect with friends and make arrangements for after-school activities. Sports, dances, and clubs blurred the borders of the school day. Such school functions allowed for a smooth flow between the school and home contexts. For these girls, the social aspects of junior high life far outweighed the academic. Attendance at school was regarded as important primarily for social-group participation. Aca- demics were, for the most part, perceived as opportunities to document allegiances within peer networks....
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- Winter '07