Doing morality in school : Teasing, gossip and subteaching as collaborative action
Sammanfattning: The present thesis investigates socializing practices that take place among pupils during group-work sessions in Swedish junior high schools. The pupils, who were video recorded during such sessions, were supposed to work on common assignments, but quite often digressed into so-called off-task talk Most of the present analyses focus on such digressions.More specifically, the purpose of the thesis was to study pupils' moral practices. Through the staging of such practices, the pupils could be seen to be 'doing morality in school'. A basic assumption was that social norms are best seen when the participants themselves identify transgressions of these norms. Three communicative genres in which moral practices become plainly visible were chosen as the basis for analysis: (i) teasing, (ii)gossiping, and (iii) so-called 'suhteaching', that is, sequences of talk where at least one pupil is positioned as a deputy teacher. Sequences of these genres were transcribed in detail, and a conversational approach was applied for the purpose of close analyses of moral practices.The findings are presented in four articles. The first article focuses on on gender socialization and illustrates the fine details of how boys and girls orient to gender in teasing practices. It also shows that cross-gender teasing is far more common than same-gender teasing. In the second article, the dialogic architecture of teasing is analyzed, showing that pupils often rely on their co-participants in the staging of teases, and that they employ a rich repertoire of responce strategies: account work, denial, minimal responses, playing along with the teasing, retaliation, and proactive work. The third article focuses on gossiping, and more specifically on how gossip sometimes serves as remedial action for incidents or states of affairs that can be seen as degrading for the primary gossiper's social standing. Finally, the fourth article analyzes so-called 'sub-teaching' and resistance to such subteaching. Regardless of whether pupils are positioned as subteachers or position themselves, subteaching is ultimately always a collaborative affair.Together the four studies show some of the skills that pupils must master in order to participate successfully in group interaction. Ultimately, pupils' (local) standing largely depends upon acquiring such skills. The conclusion is that school is perhaps not foremost a place where you learn a set of moral norms, but an arena where you learn to practically manage yourself in and through talk-in-interaction.
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