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Sharpening Theory and Methodology to Explore Racialized Youth Peer Cultures

Researching Children and Youth: Methodological Issues, Strategies, and Innovations

ISBN: 978-1-78714-099-8, eISBN: 978-1-78714-098-1

Publication date: 8 March 2017


Children and youth of color in White and adult-dominated societies confront racism and adultism that shapes their peer cultures. Yet, the “new” sociology of childhood lacks the theory and methodology to explore racialized peer cultures. Thus, this chapter aims to sharpen its research tools. Theoretically, this chapter draws from Technologies of the Self (Foucault, 1988) and Critical Race Theory (Delgado & Stefancic, 2012) to enhance Valentine’s (1997) “adult-youth binary” and Corsaro’s (2015) “interpretive reproduction.” Methodologically, it combines the “doing research with children” approach (Greig, Taylor, & MacKay, 2013) with Critical Race Methodology (Solórzano & Yosso, 2002) to do research with youth of color. These enhanced research tools are then used to explore how boys and girls of color (n = 150), 9- to 17-year olds, experience peer culture in suburban schools, under police surveillance, and on social media. In the field, interviewers navigated their adult privilege and racial/ethnic positionalities in relation to that of participants and the racial dynamic in the research setting, ultimately aiming to co-create a safe space for counter-storytelling. As a result, this chapter captured how White-dominated peer cultures used racial microaggressions against youth of color in suburban schools, boy peer cultures navigated racialized policing, and online-offline peer cultures curtailed protective and controlling racialized adult surveillance. Theoretically, the racially enhanced interpretive reproduction and adult-youth binary exposed the adultism-racism intersection that shapes youth peer cultures. Methodologically, counter-storytelling revealed the painful realities that youth of color face and that those with adult and/or White privilege would rather ignore.




I extend my deepest gratitude to the participants, youth centers, research interns, IT personnel, librarians, peer reviewers, and editors of this volume for making this chapter possible. This research was funded by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s Career Enhancement Fellowship, the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, and Connecticut College’s Internship Program, Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, R.F. Johnson Faculty Development Fund, Judith Tindal Opatrny’72 Junior Faculty Fund, Margaret Sheridan’67 Research Initiative Fund, the Research Matters Faculty Grant, and the Susan Eckert Lynch’62 Faculty Research Fund. Gracias.


Campos-Holland, A. (2017), "Sharpening Theory and Methodology to Explore Racialized Youth Peer Cultures", Researching Children and Youth: Methodological Issues, Strategies, and Innovations (Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, Vol. 22), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 223-247.



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