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Girlhood, Beauty Pageants, and Power

Trailer Park Royalty

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Elisabeth B. Thompson-Hardy

Girlhood, Beauty Pageants, and Power: Trailer Park Royalty explores the phenomenon of child beauty pageants in rural communities throughout the American South. In a bricolage of post-structural feminism, critical ethnographies, critical hermeneutics, and cultural studies lenses, this book analyzes how the performance of participants—most from a lower socio-economic bracket—and the power exercised by beauty pageant culture work to formulate girls’ identities. Girlhood, Beauty Pageants, and Power also examines how depictions in popular culture through film, videos, documentaries, and television shows add to the dialogue. Author Elisabeth B. Thompson-Hardy suggests rural pageant culture works to create girlhood identity and shapes the way participants view the world and themselves—through intricate cultural work in terms of gender and class. This book is intended for students and teachers who are interested in dissecting rural girlhood and development, Southern American beauty standards, and the effect of the media on girls’ identities.

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Chapter Two: Situating the Bricolage: Research and the Critical Tradition

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Chapter Two

Situating the Bricolage: Research and the Critical Tradition

The field of curriculum studies has been reconceptualized as there was a move from development of concrete practices, methods and evaluation, to a field that was centered on dialogue to achieve understanding. It is within this discursive view of curriculum that I find the frameworks from which to create my research. Seeing curriculum as a gendered, post structural, cultural text, I will be working from a cultural studies, critical ethnography, critical hermeneutics and post structural feminist angle. These four frameworks employ aspects of post structuralism as the focus is on language and discourse and the movement of power in culture. All four also employ aspects of gender as they see that identities are social constructs that come from language and culture.

The focus of my research will involve the discursive field of the relationship between language, social institutions, subjectivity, class, and power. Weedon (1997) explains,←25 | 26→

Language is the place where actual and possible forms of social organization and their likely social and political consequences are defined and contested. Yet it is also the place where our sense of ourselves, our subjectivity, is constructed (p. 21).

Feminist post structural theory examines the relationship that lies in this discursive field, including time and space, in relation to aspects of gender. It is through feminist post structural theory that we can see the discursive field that is reinscribed every day. In...

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