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Freaks, Geeks, and Cool Kids


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Table of Contents

Part I. The Puzzle and the Tools 1. Why Do They Behave Like That? 2. The Tools for 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 Part V: Fifteen Years Later 11. Fifteen Years Later Appendix I. The Theory of Status Relations: Elaborations Appendix II. Data and Methods Appendix III. Sample Research Materials Appendix IV. Data and Method 2013-14

About the Author

Murray Milner, Jr. is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia. His book Status and Sacredness received the American Sociological Society's Distinguished Book Award. His most recent book is Elites: A General Model (Polity Books 2015).


Written about 15 years after the publication of the first edition (CH, Nov'04, 42-1642), Milner's updated book argues that teenagers' peer relations and status systems continue to dominate their consciousness. Though most chapters remain the same with some editorial changes, chapter 1 includes an updated analysis of why teenagers behave the way they do, especially in the contemporary digital society. Milner (emer., sociology, Virginia) also adds a new chapter at the end confirming that despite the social changes over the last 15 years, little has changed in that status systems still matter and drive teenage behaviors. But he also recognizes that status does not depend only on associations and conformity, as conventional theories on socialization and individuation claim. Rather, status is also contingent on visibility. This is why "Facebook official," "fear of missing out," and other new social phenomena have appeared in the lives of teenagers. Milner argues that "keeping up" is about knowing what others wrote on social media and not about fashion. The book's new observation research, contrasted with that from the early 2000s, serves as a testament to what has and has not changed in 15 years. --Y. Kiuchi, Michigan State University, in CHOICE

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