Troubling identity and literacy : young adolescents' subjectivities and literacies using popular culture texts
Hagood, Margaret Carmody
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The purpose of this 20-week, cross-continental study was to map how seven, 12- and 13-year-old young adolescents living in Australia and the United States used popular culture in their literacy lives to construct notions of themselves. Guided by poststructural theories of the self and cultural studies theories of production and consumption, this study addressed (1) how adolescents are named, structured, and situated in particular ways, as particular people based upon categorizations of adolescence and on the adolescents’ interests in popular culture, (2) how adolescents use popular culture to perpetuate categories that have named them, but also to push against and sometimes to temporarily knock down those categories that force them into being particular people with particular identities, and (3) how adolescents shape new ideas, categories, and understandings through the tensions of being produced as particular people and of constructing ways of being someone different. Data gathered over two, 10-week periods in Australia and the United States included 8-12 hours of daily observational fieldnotes taken before, during, and after school and occasionally on weekends; taped interviews with adolescents, teachers, and parents; dialogue journals between the researcher and each adolescent; researcher journal notes; artifacts; and adolescents’ photo self documentary of the popular culture texts in their lives. Data were analyzed within each local context and across global contexts using poststructural rhizomatic cartography and chiaroscuro, an artistic technique. Analysis of data showed how adolescents read and used texts differently. Sometimes they used texts as a perpetuation of an identity they wanted for themselves, while other times they used texts to push against identities that defined them in particular ways. Implications of this study suggest that adolescents’ uses of popular culture are a complex mix of identity production and subjectivity construction that relate to societal structures that name and define adolescents and their uses of popular culture.