Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Tangle of Discourses: Girls Negotiating Adolescence by Rebecca C. Raby


"Youth today are courted as a high-consumer group, and are modelled in the media as the ideal age, with teenagehood constituting the onset of 'the best years of your life'" (437).  

This quote is found under the discourse, pleasurable consumption.  In general, pleasurable consumption is a relatively new concept in which came about after World War II.  World War II gave rise to industrialization and specialization, which allowed for an expansion of the marketplace.  Companies soon realized that the young people had a strong influence on the family's spending, so focused their advertisement on this demographic.  Drawing from previous texts, in Grace Palladino's book, Teenagers, Palladino  agrees that teenagers are now a targeted group of the media.  The media, realizing how powerful it is, encourages teenagers to define themselves through their appearance and other superficial objects. Because this age group is one filled with insecurities, the media "helps" through advertising products and brand names that will ease these insecurities.  In addition, teenagers are also a big target for the media, because many of these teenagers are not spending their own money and have that free time to be exposed to trends.  

"The tension between dependence and independence..." (439)

 I believe this tension is truly apparent as a teenager and the line is often blurred.  The example used in this article is Prom.  Prom is supposed to be a coming of age event, where teenagers dress up and look refine (adult-like), however are regulated by teachers in a confined area.  Teenage years are often defined as adolescents learning how to be independent and adult-like.  I have found that in my own experience, I was expected to try new things and be independent, but was at the same time regulated by parental instructions that this coming of age idea was nonexistent. There are few opportunities to demonstrate these qualities, which strengthens Raby's statement that there is tension between dependence and independence.  

"She defines the mood as 'different' but not necessarily bad, and links this difference to the context of starting high school and dealing with its demands" (441)

The biggest misconception of being a teenager is that teenagers become moody.  Many times, this misconception comes from parents.  After interviewing a teenager girl of the age of 14, the girl herself is able to describe what is meant by her change of mood.  It is true, that the demands of high school are extremely difficult to take on.  In general, there is a lot of pressure being put on high school students; students from day one are pressured to fit in, get good grades, look forward for the future i.e. college, participate in extracurricular activities, and etc.  This is a huge amount of stress that is put on kids.  So for people to generalize that teenagers are moody is incorrect at best.  

Although this article did interview grandchildren and grandmothers and examined these five discourses of adolescence, I don't believe I gained any new information.  As this article did interview two different age groups, I believe it would have been more informative if it examined the evolution of teenagers.  Times were different when these grandmothers now were teenagers and vice-a-versa.  The five discourses that Raby described: storm, becoming, at-risk, social problem, and pleasurable consumption, I believe are concepts that most people are accustomed to.  I don't know if it was just me, but I wish there was new information surrounding the concept of teenagers.  

An Evolution of Teenagers



  1. I really like the first quote you used. This was familiar to the first article we read for class. It talked all about teens being the high consumed group as did this one. I also find this to be true but a little worrisome. However, I have to admit that I was also warped in to seeing what the newest style was at the time and fitting my wardrobe around it. I think most of us can relate to this and maybe still can even at our age now.

  2. I love how you discussed the mood-swing misconception. While reading your reflection on the third quote, I began to wonder if maybe some of the moodiness teenagers feel/express is in response to their aggravation from everyone assuming their moody in the first place or from people blaming anything teens do on their moodiness. I know personally, if I had a problem and I expressed this to any adults, they would often blame it on my teenage emotions and mood-swings which just frustrated me and made me even MORE emotional...