The Hidden Life of Girls: Games of Stance, Status, and Exclusion / Edition 1

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Winner of the Best Book of 2008 from The International Gender and Language Association

In this ground-breaking ethnography of girls on a playground, Goodwin offers a window into their complex social worlds.

  • Combats stereotypes that have dominated theories on female moral development by challenging the notion that girls are inherently supportive of each other
  • Examines the stances that girls on a playground in a multicultural school setting assume and shows how they position themselves in their peer groups
  • Documents the language practices and degradation rituals used to sanction friends and to bully others
  • Part of the Blackwell Studies in Discourse and Culture Series
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Important [and] groundbreaking work, combining ethnography and the close study of social interaction. Written with wonderfully clear prose, it will make an excellent textbook for undergraduate courses on language and social interaction, the ethnography of communication, and linguistic anthropology. I can attest also to its appropriateness for graduate level classes-I found that it prompted extensive discussion on a wide range of topics … .It goes without saying that this is required reading for anyone who studies either gender or children or both from an anthropological, psychological, or sociological perspective.” (Journal of Anthropological Research, November 2008)

“Combining ethnographic fieldwork in neighborhood and school grounds with micro-analysis of both discursive and non-discursive situated practices, it offers a powerful and rare look into the social dynamics of girls' social life. The author moves within and between the various data sets she has gathered over the years with elegance, offering multifaceted analyses of particular interactional moments and communicative practices in ways that make them speak to and illuminate each other. The book, then, offers both rich and rigorous ways of looking at children's naturally situated conduct that speak to larger concerns of social science research. It is clearly of great value to students of language and social interaction, interpersonal communication scholars, and researchers concerned with the development of communication competence or with group processes, to mention but some of the more obvious subfields in our discipline for which this book will prove to be a great asset.” (International Journal of Communication, Spring 2008)

“A powerful [and] provocative read… Highly recommended” (Choice)

“Hidden Life develops into an engrossing read … .One of Hidden Life’s strengths is Goodwin’s diverse sample of Latino, Asian, African American, and Caucasian girls.”
(Feminist Collections)

“Rich analysis … .Full of rich and diverse data … and important policy recommendations. Shines a bright light on the complexity … of preadolescent girls.” (Sex Roles)

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Marjorie Harness Goodwin is Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at UCLA. She is the author of the now-classic He-Said, She-Said: Talk as Social Organization among Black Children (1991). Her primary research interests are on the ethnography of communication, human interaction, conversation analysis, language and gender, workplace ethnography, and children's social organization.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables.



1. Introduction.

2. Multimodality, Conflict, and Rationality in Girls’ Games.

3. Social Dimensions of a Popular Girls’ Clique.

4. Social Organization, Opposition, and Directives in the Game of Jump Rope.

5. Language Practices for Indexing Social Status: Stories, Descriptions, Brags, and Comparisons.

6. Stance and Structure in Assessment and Gossip Activity.

7. Constructing Social Difference and Exclusion in Girls’ Groups.

8. Conclusion.

Appendix A: Transcription Symbols.

Appendix B: Jump Rope Rhymes.



Author Index.

Subject Index

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