In this timely and insightful book, award-winning sociologist Murray Milner tries to understand why teenagers behave the way they do. Drawing upon two years of intensive fieldwork in one high school and 300 written interviews about high schools across the country, he argues that consumer culture has greatly impacted the way our youth relate to one another and understand themselves and society. He also suggests that the status systems in high schools are in and of themselves an important contributing factor to the creation and maintenance of consumer capitalism explaining the importance of designer jeans and designer drugs in an effort to be the coolest kid in the class.
Table of Contents
Part I: The Puzzle And The Tools Introduction 1. Why Do They Behave Like That? 2. The Tools fro Understanding Part II: Explaining Teens' Behavior 3. Fitting In, Standing Out and Keeping Up 4. Steering clear, Hanging Out and Hooking Up 5. Exchanges, Labels and Put downs Part III: Why Schools Vary 6. The Pluralistic High School 7. Other Kinds of Schools Part IV: Teen Status Systems and Consumerism 8. Creating Consumers 9. Consuming Life 10. Conclusions and Implications Appendix I: Theory of Status Relations : Elaborations Appendix II: Data and Methods Appendix III: Sample Research Materials
"Murray Milner has done more than perhaps any other American sociologist to remind us that 'status' remains a primary mode of stratification, one that is dependent on cultural, not material power. He first set out this claim in his study of the Hindu caste system. In this new installment of his research program, he applies his considerable powers to American teenagers, and he shows how they produce caste systems of an equally deep and irrational kind. Freaks, Geeks, and Cool Kids is exemplary sociological research and theory. It is also wise and witty, and often touching as well." -- Jeffrey C. Alexander, co-editor of The New Social Theory Reader: Contemporary Debates
"Countless books are written about the world of the teenager, but this one is unique in its discussion of the link between teen status systems and consumer culture." -- Library Journal