Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Tangle of Discourses: Raby's Argument with Lots of Pictures

In "A Tangle of Discourses: Girl's Negotiating Adolescence," Rebecca Raby talk about the different ways teenagers are considered. She also talks about the contradictions in the ideas and the ways in which these views of teens effect the way in which we view their "rebellion." First, let's address these ways in which Raby says people see teens...with the cheesiest pictures I could find to illustrate (except for the second one).

1. The Storm
Being a teenager is seen a a phase that people go through in which they're experimenting and finding out their identity. Because teenagers don't know who they are, they're unstable and being a parent to one can be rather "stormy." Raby also mentions the theory that this storm view of teenager hood is a way in which parents/ adults deal with teens and the way they act. Since this stage of life is portrayed as unpredictable, teens are seen as needing rules because they can't govern their own lives.

2. Becoming
This view of teenager-hood also sees being a teen as a phase, but really plays on this idea. Basically, the time of being a teen is just a formative process on a person's way to being an adult. This idea focuses on what teenagers will become as they gain responsibility and figure out who they are what they're doing. The problem with seeing teens as adults-in-the-making is that being a teenager becomes more about growing up than about participating in just being a teen. This view also contradicts itself because it wants teens to have more responsibility in a world in which they are "just teenagers" who can't handle responsibility.

3. At-Risk
This view of teen life believes that teenagers are an at risk group for things like sex, drugs, alcohol (and rock 'n roll?!?!).  Like the view of the "Storm" phase, this view advocates for controls in the lives of teens in order to protect them from the bad things that they could experiment with. Raby says that this view is dangerous because it allows adults to distance themselves from teenagers, just as grandparents did in the interviews by saying that kids were being tempted with all of these things that they had never experienced when they were younger.

4. Social Problem
This is a pretty prevalent view of teens today: they're independent, taking risks and in an environment that is offering them things like drugs and alcohol. This outlook on teenager-hood also portrays teens as needing an intervention before it's too late and they become dangerous. It's kind of frightening, but if we think about it, many people think teens are a problem that is waiting to happen if adults don't save them from themselves.

5. Pleasurable Consumption
This view reminded me of the reading we did from Palladino--"They're Getting Older Younger." In fact, Raby quotes something that Palladino wrote when she touches upon teenagers being a consumer group. Like we talked about before, teenagers are seen as buyers and consumers and the market takes advantage of that. And like Palladino claimed, Raby also points out that advertising send mixed messages to teens. In this view of teens, teenager-hood is seen as a time of needing to fit in and express through buying things.

Now that you've enjoyed the 90's depictions of rebellious teens, I think it's important to touch upon what Raby brings up about rebellion. When she gives definition to "rebellion," Raby points out that when applied to adults, it means something yet when applied to teens, it just means that they're acting out because that's just what teens do. When teenagers try to deal with the contradictions in the five views of teenager-hood (that Raby gives examples of, like trying to be more responsible but not being given responsibility), they are dismissed. As Raby puts it, "rebellion is a much more dominant frame of reference for teenage activities than resistance." Here Raby captures her argument, that teenagers trying to develop identity and gain independence and responsibility are dismissed as being rebellious when they attempt to push back against the stereotypes of being a teenager. Their views and ideas--which could be really helpful--are often overlook because "they're just teenagers."

And now, a scene from what has been deemed the Top Teenage Rebellion Movie...Hmm, maybe Raby has a point about this whole concept of rebellion.

A point I'd like to talk about in class is how people feel about these views of being a teen. I think that they are valid and do reflect reality, but are they stereotypes. I'm just wondering how much of these ideas come from a distanced place of adulthood. Some of the teens in the interviews did agree with the statements. It's kind of the typical question of did they come about and how much of them are true now?


  1. You did very well describing the FIVE ways Rabys believes teens are considered.
    The link you added of the breakfast club draws me to think of the stereotypes that were associated with each character. The jock, popular rich girl, geek… etc. These teens only got together because they had Saturday detention. During this movie we see how they have similarities and actually do get along but they would have never thought or known because of their LABELS. Great movie, great link, and great post.

    1. I remember being younger and having my opinion undermined because of my age and it can be so frustrating. it's aggravating because there are brilliant minds out there and they shouldn't be overlooked because they're "just Teenagers".

  2. I think that it might be getting more acceptable for teens to branch out and be recognized but I think it's really concentrated in the arts