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K-State Today

November 12, 2012

Loyd publishes chapter on practices of social control, verbal prowess among girls in inner city Napoli, Italy

Submitted by Heather Loyd

Heather Loyd, assistant professor of anthropology, published a chapter, "The Logic of Conflict: Practices of social control among inner city Neapolitan girls," in the volume "Disputes in everyday life: Social and moral orders of children and young people" of the American Sociological Association's Studies of Children and Youth; Emerald Books.

The chapter presents 5- to 12-year-old girls in their performances of persuasion and social control among peers in their inner city Neapolitan neighborhood of the Quartieri Spagnoli. Quartieri Spagnoli girls deploy a grammar of social control, including threats, directives, insults, physical attacks, wit and intonation, to influence each other’s behaviors and establish alliances and social hierarchy in their peer groups. This chapter demonstrates how those who demand control present themselves as agents who have power over other subjects and who themselves cannot be acted upon.

Social Implications:
Girls’ rhetorical skills serve to buy them status and situational power in their peer groups, offsetting feelings of powerlessness in an environment where they are otherwise excluded from mainstream peer groups and society. 

This chapter offers a window onto young girls’ verbal prowess in establishing respect on inner city streets, a topic that has been almost exclusively reserved for males.

The analysis is based on 16 months of linguistic anthropological fieldwork. Seven focal girls and 16 of their female peers were observed and video-recorded in the home and in neighborhood streets.